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Drug convicts transferred to Indonesian island for execution

Two Australian nationals convicted of drug crimes in Indonesia have been transferred to an island for execution despite international criticism. Nine other foreign convicts could also face the firing squad.

Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, both from Australia, arrived on the Indonesian prison island Nusakambangan on Wednesday where they are likely to be executed despite international pleas to spare them. No date has been set for the execution.

A Frenchman and a Brazilian are already on the island, and there are nationals from Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines and Indonesia also facing the firing squad.

Indonesian Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo had previously said all 11 would be executed. On Wednesday his office said it was still evaluating how many would face the death penalty. All have been convicted on drug offenses.

"We want to send a message to all parties, to the people of the world, that Indonesia is

trying hard to battle drug crimes

," Prasetyo said. Indonesia has been grappling with what President Joko Widodo has called a "drug emergency."

Executions were resumed in 2013 after a five-year gap. In January,

six drug convicts were executed

. More than 130 people are on death row, including 57 drug convicts.

Indonesia has faced an international backlash, with the Netherlands and Brazil recalling their ambassadors in January. Brazil has also refused to accept the credentials of the new Indonesian ambassador, and France summoned Indonesia's envoy.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was "revolted by the prospect of these executions," stressing that Australia saw the need to be tough on drug crime but that it was against the death penalty.

The Australian government had been lobbying on behalf of the two Australian convicts, who were the ringleaders of the "Bali Nine" drug smuggling gang, but Abbott said he was not "holding out much hope."

Chan and Sukumaran were arrested in 2005 for trying to smuggle 8 kilograms (18 pounds) of heroin into Australia. They were sentenced to death the following year.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop pleaded with Indonesian President Widodo to "show mercy and forgiveness to these two Australian men who have undergone this remarkable rehabilitation," noting their "immense remorse" for their crimes.

ng/kms (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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