JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia brushed aside last-minute appeals by foreign leaders and executed by firing squad six people convicted of drug trafficking, including five foreigners, sending a message that the new government will not compromise its tough approach to narcotics.
Four men from Brazil, Malawi, Nigeria and the Netherlands and an Indonesian woman were shot to death simultaneously in pairs just after midnight Saturday, several kilometers (miles) from a high-security prison on Nusakambangan island. The other, a woman from Vietnam, was executed in Boyolali, according to Attorney General Office's spokesman Tony Spontana. Both areas are in Central Java province.
Their bodies were brought from the island by ambulances early Sunday either for burial or cremation, as requested by relatives and representatives of their embassies.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo in December rejected their clemency requests. He also refused a last-minute appeal by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the Dutch government to spare their countrymen — Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, 53, and Ang Kiem Soe, 52, who was born in Papua but whose nationality is Dutch.
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said in a statement late Saturday that he had temporarily recalled the country's ambassador to Indonesia and summoned Indonesia's representative in The Hague to protest Ang's execution. He said it was carried out despite King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte personally contacting Widodo.
Koenders called the execution "a cruel and inhumane punishment ... an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity."
Rousseff said she was outraged and appalled by the execution, according to a government statement.
The execution "creates a stain, a shadow in the bilateral relationship," said Marco Aurelio Garcia, the Brazilian president's foreign affairs special adviser. "There was no sensitivity on the part of the Indonesian government."
Amnesty International said the first executions under Indonesia's new president, who took office in November, were "a retrograde step" for human rights.
Indonesian Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo has said there is no excuse for drug dealers and that "hopefully, this will have a deterrent effect."
Prasetyo said the new government had a firm commitment to fight against drugs. Widodo has said he will not grant clemency to the dozens of drug convicts on death row.
"What we do is merely aimed at protecting our nation from the danger of drugs," Prasetyo told reporters Thursday. He said figures from the National Anti-Narcotic Agency showed 40 to 50 people die each day from drugs in Indonesia.
He said that drug trafficking rings have spread to many places, including remote villages where most victims are youngsters of productive age. Indonesia has become the largest drug market in Southeast Asia, with 45 percent of the region's drugs in circulation.
A second batch of executions will be held later this year and also target drug smugglers, Prasetyo said.
Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people, has extremely strict drug laws and often executes smugglers. More than 138 people are on death row, mostly for drug crimes. About a third of them are foreigners.
Moreira, the Brazilian, was arrested in 2003 after police at Jakarta's airport found 13.4 kilograms (29.5 pounds) of cocaine hidden in his hang glider. A second Brazilian national, Rodrigo Muxfeldt Gularte, remains on death row in Indonesia, also convicted of drug trafficking.
Ang was arrested near Jakarta in 2003 after police found equipment that they estimated had been producing 15,000 ecstasy pills a day for three years. Police confiscated 8,000 pills and thousands of dollars.
The others who were executed were Namaona Denis, 48, from Malawi; Daniel Enemuo, 38, from Nigeria; and Indonesian Rani Andriani.
Tran Bich Hanh of Vietnam asked authorities to let her face the firing squad uncuffed as one of her last wishes, said Spontana, the Attorney General Office's spokesman.
Associated Press writers Mike Corder in The Hague and Adriana Gomez Licon in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.