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Australians sent for execution in Indonesia

February 17, 2015

Indonesia has ordered the transfer of eight drug smugglers, including two Australians, to a high-security prison ahead of their scheduled execution. Former Australian prime ministers have joined a bid to save the men.

Australian death row prisoners Andrew Chan (center) and Myuran Sukumaran (left) are seen in a holding cell waiting to attend a review hearing in the District Court of Denpasar on the Indonesian island of Bali
Image: Reuters/N. Budhiana/Antara Foto

Eight drug smugglers were to be transferred to an Indonesian prison island this week for imminent execution, an official in Jakarta said on Tuesday.

The convicts included two men from Australia, five men from France, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria and Indonesia and another woman from the Philippines. They would face a firing squad in Nusa Kambangan prison, said Tony Spontana, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

"Their legal options were exhausted after their clemency was rejected by the president," said Spontana. "The next step is execution."

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has rejected appeals for amnesty, saying his country was suffering a"drug emergency." On January 18, Jakarta executed six drug convicts, including citizens from the Netherlands, Nigeria, Vietnam and Malawi, despite appeals for amnesty by their countries.

However, the lawyers of Australian citizens Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran said Tuesday that their clients could not be transferred for execution because the court had set a date next week to look into claims that Jokowi had not followed rules in rejecting the appeals.

"They cannot transfer, they cannot move Chan and Sukumaran, let alone kill them, while the legal process was going on," lawyer Todong Mulya Lubis told Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 33, were arrested in 2005 for attempting to smuggle 8.3 kilograms (18.3 pounds) of heroin to Australia from the Indonesian resort of Bali. Seven other members in their gang received prison sentences ranging from 20 years to life.

Australian leaders appeal for clemency

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday that his government had been appealing to Jakarta for amnesty. "Like millions of Australians, I feel sick in the pit of my stomach when I think about what is quite possibly happening to these youngsters," Abbott said, referring to Chan and Sukumaran.

On Tuesday, all of Australia's surviving former prime ministers, including Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard joined Abbott in his bid to save the two men.

Fraser, prime minister from 1975 to 1983 wrote: "We are very much opposed to the death penalty in Australia…These two men made a mistake when they were young and foolish."

"As a deep, long-standing friend of Indonesia, I would respectfully request an act of clemency," Rudd, who was president in 2007 and 2013, wrote in a statement.

Indonesia has extremely strict drug laws. Last month, the Southeast Asian country executed six drug convicts by firing squad. Experts from the United Nations and human rights organizations have expressed concerns after reports emerged of some defendants' trials not meeting international standards.

One hundred thirty-three people are on death row in Indonesia, out of which 57 are for drug crimes.

mg/cmk (AFP, AP)