Bali Nine executions: Australian prisoners could be dead by Wednesday as Indonesia ignores pleas for mercy

International calls for clemency for Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan have fallen on deaf ears

Lizzie Dearden
Monday 27 April 2015 15:43

Two Australian could be dead by Wednesday morning as Indonesia vows to push ahead with their executions in the face of global outrage.

Countless attempts by Australian lawyers, politicians and diplomats to commute the death sentences for convicted drug smugglers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan have fallen on deaf ears.

They were informed of their imminent executions on Saturday – Anzac Day - and Indonesia’s law of giving convicts at least 72 hours’ notice makes Tuesday night the earliest they can be killed.

Australia made a last-minute plea to delay the firing squad today, saying reports that their trial had been tainted by corruption must be investigated before the sentence can be carried out.

The UN Secretary-General, Ban K-Moon, also pleaded for clemency and called for Indonesia to declare a moratorium on capital punishment.

Julie Bishop, the Australian Foreign Minister, deepened a diplomatic row with Jakarta by saying that “very serious” allegations that judges demanded money to commute the death sentences called into question the integrity of the process.

“They have been rehabilitated in a most remarkable way over the past ten years and are genuinely remorseful for their serious crimes,” she said in a statement.

“Nothing can be gained and much will be lost if these two young Australians are executed…I again respectfully call on the President of Indonesia to reconsider his refusal to grant clemency.

“It is not too late for a change of heart.”

Muhammad Rifan, a lawyer in Bali, told the Sydney Morning Herald that he had agreed to pay judges considering Sukumaran and Chan’s case A$130,000 £67,000) for prison terms of less than 20 years.

Workers load coffins into a lorry ahead of the execution of nine prisoners in Indonesia

He claimed the deal fell through when the judges told him they had been ordered by senior legal and government officials to impose a death penalty and he could not pay the increased fee demanded.

Indonesia's foreign ministry retaliated by saying Australia needed to show proof of the alleged corruption and questioned why concerns were being raised only now instead of 10 years ago, when the pair were imprisoned.

A spokesperson said Sukumaran and Chan had been given all the legal avenues to challenge their death sentences.

Indonesian soldiers stand as guard at Wijayapura port near the prison island of Nusakambangan on Monday

They were convicted in 2006 as part of the “Bali Nine” drug smuggling gang who were arrested on the island for trying to smuggle 8kg of heroin to Australia. Their six Australian co-conspirators were jailed for between 18 years and life in Indonesia.

Sukumaran and Chan are part of a separate group of nine drug convicts, including others from Brazil, Philippines, Ghana, Nigeria and Indonesia, due to be imminently executed.

Other nations are also attempting last-minute interventions, with the Philippines’ president appealing for “humanitarian consideration” in the case of a mother-of-two who claims she was duped into carrying illegal drugs.

In that case, President Joko Widodo reportedly told his counterpart he was sympathetic and would consult with the attorney general on the case but in the matter of the two Australians he has so far remained resolute.

Activists hold a banner during a protest in front of the Indonesian embassy in Manila on April 27, 2015

Indonesia resumed executions for drugs offences 2013 following his election, after a five-year pause.

Mr Widodo was elected on his vow to take a hard line on traffickers and has been unwavering in his refusal to grant foreigners on death row clemency, straining diplomatic relations with several countries as a result.

France has warned of "consequences" if the execution of Serge Atlaoui, who still has an appeal before the courts, goes ahead as planned.

Among those waiting to die is British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, who is also on Nusa Kambangan, Indonesia’s “execution island” where the Australians are being held.

The 58-year-old said she has accepted her fate after hearing that her friend, Chan, had lost his appeals and “just wants to get it over with”.

Indonesia's Judicial Commission said it would investigate the corruption claims but said its findings would have no bearing on the cases.

“Even if it is proven that the judge violated ethical codes, it won't affect the court's earlier decision,” Commissioner Taufiqqurahman Syahuri told Reuters.

“We cannot annul a decision from a court, such a thing can only be done by a higher court. What has been decided is final. The Judicial Commission can punish the judge, but ethical and legal matters are different.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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