Barrister Julian McMahon tried his best to save the lives of Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, becoming Victoria’s strong contender for Australian of the Year award.
As a critic of death penalty system and a defender of human rights, McMahon tried hard to save the lives of Australians facing death penalty in foreign nations for the past 13 years for free. He acquired his law degree in Melbourne and he decided to become a lawyer when he was in his secondary level of education in Sydney.
McMahon told AAP that his interest in law grew when he was a teen as he watched Rumpole of the Bailey. His first case against death penalty was of Van Tuong Nguyen in Singapore. He fought the case in 2002 when he was just a “relatively new and raw barrister,” having an experience of a mere four years. Despite efforts from McMahon, his team and also pleas for clemency by the Aussie government, the victim was executed over drug trafficking charges.
Since then, the barrister has handled a number of cases to save Australians staying overseas from death penalty charges. The cases included George Forbes in Sudan who returned to Sydney and the Bali Nine duo cases. In April 2015, the Bali Nine pair was executed in spite of McMahon’s severe trials. Since then, he has presented his views and work on death penalty at the Asian Regional Congress in Malaysia and he continues to oppose it throughout the globe.
The barrister advocates continuing his trials to ensure the eradication of the death penalty system someday. “I would say that lots of people have difficult or demanding jobs and lives, but what I do is nothing compared to lifetime carers of people suffering serious disabilities,” he told AAP. “I just feel embarrassed when people say ‘you’re so amazing,’ when the fact is I’m doing my work the best I can and it’s not as hard as what a lot of people have to do.”
McMahon stated that even if he has received a nomination for such a prestigious award such as Australian of the Year, he will be using it to aid people belonging to the marginalised sector of the society. The Sunshine Coast Daily reported that qualified former nurse, Anne Carey, who helped fight Ebola in Sierra Leone, has also been nominated for the Australian of the Year award.