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Indonesia: Families visit convicted Australia smugglers

Relatives of two Australians set for execution in Indonesia have visited the men in prison. The convicted drug smugglers have one more shot at an appeal against the president's decision to reject their clemency pleas.

As the date of the men's executions draws near, the families of Andrew Chan (center in photo) and Myuran Sukumaran (left), two Australian drug smugglers facing imminent execution, have visited the prison island where Indonesia plans to put the men to death.

In 2006, a court sentenced Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the ringleaders of the "Bali Nine" drug gang, for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.

"We're fairly excited to go see Andy today," Chan's brother Michael told reporters on Monday. "It's been a few days. We're just looking forward to see him when we get over there, giving him a hug."

In all, authorities plan to execute nine foreigners - from France, Brazil, the Philippines, Nigeria and Ghana, as well as Australia - and an Indonesian man on drug charges as soon as all of the prisoners have exhausted their appeals. Chan and Sukumaran will get one more shot before an administrative court on Thursday.

The men have challenged President Joko Widodo's decision to reject their pleas for clemency - but last month a Jakarta court dismissed that bid. Their lawyers have now lodged an appeal against the decision.

Widodo, who took office in October, has vocally supported the death penalty for drug convicts, saying that Indonesia faces an "emergency" with its rising narcotics use. However, at the weekend the president said he could foresee abolishing the death penalty in future, if the public favored it.

'Counting down'

The men recently lost their appeals for presidential clemency, typically the final chance to avoid the firing squad. Last week, authorities moved them from the Bali jail where they had resided for years, to Nusakambangan prison island off Java, where the executions would take place. Early Monday, their relatives arrived at Cilacap, the port town on Java and gateway to Nusakambangan, as they headed to see Chan and Sukumaran.

Sukumaran's brother Chinthu said he and his mother, Raji, and sister Brintha "have been waiting, counting down the days." He added: "We've been told he's doing well, so we just want to see him for ourselves, just to make sure, and let him know that we love him."

Escorted by consular officials, the families planned to spend several hours on the island before returning to Cilacap. Last week, the Australian government had unsuccessfully offered Indonesia a prisoner swap.

mkg/cmk (AFP, AP)

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