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Indonesia finalizes preparations for drugs executions

Indonesia says it is almost ready to put to death nine foreigners convicted for drug smuggling. A diplomatic campaign by Australia to have two of its nationals spared has so far been to no avail.

Indonesian authorities said on Tuesday that the remaining four of a group of nine convicted foreign drug smugglers would be transferred to an island off Java this week preparatory to being put to death.

Officials have not yet set a date for the execution, but the transfer to the Nusakambangan prison indicates that it is imminent, although under Indonesian law convicts must be given 72 hours' notice before being put to death. Five other foreigners and an Indonesian are already in the prison, where five people, including foreigners, were executed in January.

The ten convicts are to be killed simultaneously in pairs by firing squad, the normal method of execution in Indonesia. The foreign convicts come from Australia, Brazil, France, Ghana, Nigeria and the Philippines.

Vain appeals

Several governments have launched unsuccessful appeals

for clemency to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is

a vocal advocate of the death penalty.

Neigboring Australia in particular has mounted

a longrunning campaign

to convince Indonesian authorities to cancel the executions of its nationals, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" drug trafficking band.

Chan and Sukumaran were convicted of trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia in 2005. They were sentenced to death the following year.

In an appearance on Indonesian television on the weekend, Chan's brother, Michael, pleaded to Widodo for mercy, saying his sibling was "a changed man."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also made repeated pleas for both Chan and Sukumaran's lives to be spared.

Widodo has rejected appeals for clemency from at least 16 convicted drug traffickers since taking office in October.

tj/rg (AP, AFP)

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