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Families, France urge Indonesia to show mercy

April 25, 2015

Consular officials have rushed to an island prison in Indonesia, after officials gave final approval for the executions of nine foreign drug convicts. President Hollande warned of "diplomatic consequences."

Unterstützer der in Indonesien zum Tode verurteilten Philippina Mary Jane Veloso
Image: AFP/Getty Images/J. Directo

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who has said his country is fighting a drugs emergency, faced various calls for clemency on Saturday, after officials paved the way for 10 drug-related executions, nine involving foreign nationals.

Consular officials and relatives of those convicted began arriving at a town near Nusakambangan, the high-security prison island where Indonesian executions are carried out. The foreigners - two from Australia, one each from Brazil, France and the Philippines, plus four more from Africa - have all lost appeals. Three of the Africans are Nigerians, the fourth is believed to be either Nigerian or Ghanaian.

New-York based Human Rights Watch also responded to the Friday decision from Indonesia's Attorney General to give final approval for the executions.

"President Widodo has an important opportunity to signal Indonesia's rejection of the death penalty by sparing the lives of the 10 people facing looming execution," said Phelim Kine, the group's deputy Asia director. "Widodo can demonstrate true leadership by ending capital punishment as unacceptable state brutality."

Indonesischer Präsident Joko Widodo macht Selfie mit Schülern
Widodo won election in Indonesia last OctoberImage: AFP/Getty Images/M. Fyrol

Don't risk G20 progress, Hollande warns

Among the condemned is French citizen Serge Atlaoui, and President Francois Hollande warned during a diplomatic visit to Baku, Azerbaijan, that "consequences with France and Europe" would follow the death sentences.

"At the very least, we will recall our ambassador," Hollande said. He added that he personally would not visit Indonesia "for some time" if the execution went ahead, raising the prospect of a "suspension of discussions" on cooperation agreements first envisaged during a meeting with Widodo on the sidelines of last November's G20 summit in Brisbane.

"We are acting with the countries concerned, Australia and Brazil, to multiply our reach and ensure that there is no execution," Hollande said, also mentioning plans to meet with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday.

Myuran Sukumaran Andrew Chan Indonesien Todestrafe
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were sentenced to death in 2006Image: picture-alliance/MADE NAGI

Rockers call on their famous fan

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Saturday urged Widodo to have a "change of heart," while Brintha Sukumaran - sister to Australian inmate and "Bali nine" ringleader Myuran Sukumaran - issued a video appeal on YouTube, showing her clutching her younger brother as a boy.

"My brother made a mistake 10 years ago and he's paid for this mistake every single day since then," she said.

Even the heavy metal band Napalm Death, aware of Widodo's penchant for some six-stringed fury having seen him often wearing the band's tour merchandise, joined the public calls for clemency.

Philippine foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose said consular officials had been called to the prison island for a briefing from foreign ministry officials. A fixed date for the executions has not yet been given, as Jakarta is waiting on a Supreme Court appeal from the sole Indonesian among the group. The Supreme Court indicated that this ruling could come as early as Monday.

msh/án (AFP, dpa, Reuters)