Indonesia vows to execute two Australians 'as soon as possible'

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were leaders of the 'Bali Nine' drug smuggling ring

Victoria Richards
Thursday 12 February 2015 12:58
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Two Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan (L) and Myuran Sukumaran (R) the ringleaders of the "Bali Nine" drug ring, are seen in a holding cell while awaiting court trial in Denpasar, on Bali island
Two Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan (L) and Myuran Sukumaran (R) the ringleaders of the "Bali Nine" drug ring, are seen in a holding cell while awaiting court trial in Denpasar, on Bali island

Indonesia has said it will execute two Australian men "as soon as possible" after transferring them to a penal island known as 'Indonesia's Alcatraz'.

Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, could be moved to Nusakambangan Island, off the coast of Java, as early as Friday.

The pair are the ringleaders of the 'Bali Nine' drug smuggling ring – the name given to a group of nine Australians arrested on in 2005 in Denpasar, Bali, for planning to smuggle 8.3 kg of heroin from Indonesia to Australia.

All have been convicted of drug smuggling but only two were sentenced to death.

Halen Chan, the mother of death-row prisoner Andrew Chan, wipes away tears during a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia

Momock BambangSamiarso, the head of Bali prosecutor's office, said that the order to transfer the two men from Kerobokan prison, in Bali, had been made on Wednesday.

"It is not possible today, but soon, as soon as possible. We don't have a target. The sooner the better," the official said.

The case follows the failed appeal of British grandmother Lindsay Saniford, who faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia after being convicted of smuggling cocaine to the party-island of Bali in 2013.

Linday Sandiford imprisoned in Bali, where she faces death by firing squad

The men will fly to Yogyakarta on a commercial flight and then be driven for about five hours to Cilacap, where they will catch a ferry to Nusakambangan Island, which is home to several maximum security prisons, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

In response to the order, Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop called on the Indonesian government to show the same mercy to the drug traffickers on death row as Indonesia seeks from other countries.

According to the Indonesian non-governmental organization Migrant Care, up to 360 Indonesians face the death penalty overseas, including 230 on drug charges.

"We urge the Indonesian government to show the same mercy to Andrew and Myuran that it seeks for its citizens in the same situation abroad," Ms Bishop told Parliament, as she moved a motion calling for clemency.

Raji Sukumaran (R) and Brintha Sukumaran (L) family members of death-row prisoner Myuran Sukumaran cries as they talks to media after visiting Myuran at Kerobokan Prison in Bali, Indonesia

It follows a statement by Indonesia last week which said that it was preparing to "execute by firing squad" eight drug smugglers, including the two Australians.

Australia has abolished capital punishment and opposes executions of any Australian overseas.

On January 18, Indonesia, which has extremely strict drug laws, executed six prisoners on drug offences – including foreigners from Brazil, Malawi, Nigeria, the Netherlands and Vietnam. It brushed aside last-minute appeals by foreign leaders.

More than 130 people are on death row in Indonesia, including 57 drug convicts and two convicted terrorists.

Additional reporting by AP

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