Australia formally advised of imminent Indonesia executions-foreign minister

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 27, 2015 8:02 PM

By Jane Wardell

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she had received a letter from her Indonesian counterpart late on Monday advising her of the imminent execution of two Australian drug traffickers and offering no hope of a reprieve.

The two Australians are among nine mainly foreign prisoners scheduled to be executed in Indonesia this week despite last-minute pleas for clemency and an outstanding appeal in the Constitutional Court.

"They gave no indication that (Indonesian) President (Joko) Widodo would change his mind and grant the clemency that we have sought," Bishop told the Nine Network on Tuesday.

Bishop said she was not given a date or time for the executions of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

Australian media has reported the pair, who are being held on Nusakambangan prison island in central Java, have been told to say their last goodbyes at 2 p.m. local time on Tuesday (0700 GMT) before the executions are carried out just after midnight.

Four Nigerians, an Indonesian, a Brazilian and a Filipina have also been told they will soon face the firing squad.

The Australian government has pleaded with Indonesia to delay the executions until reports that the pair's trial was tainted by corruption are investigated. A challenge in the Constitutional Court is also due to be heard on May 12.

"Both these legal processes could impact on the outcome," Bishop said. "They reflect the integrity of the sentencing process and the clemency process, and so we urge the Indonesian government to allow these legal processes to proceed because of course executions are irrevocable."

Indonesia has harsh punishments for drug crimes and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap, a hard line that has strained relations with several countries. Prickly relations between Australia and Indonesia have also been tested in recent years by disputes over people smuggling and spying.

Chan and Sukumaran, ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine, were arrested at the main airport on the holiday island of Bali in 2005 for trying to smuggle 8 kg (17.6 lb) of heroin to Australia.

Bali-based lawyer Muhammad Rifan told the Sydney Morning Herald he had agreed to pay judges in their cases more than A$130,000 ($101,647) to give them a prison term of less than 20 years.

Rifan said the deal fell through when the judges told him they had been ordered by senior legal and government members in Jakarta to impose the death penalty and he did not have enough money to meet a revised, higher demand for a lighter sentence.

Indonesia's Judicial Commission said it would look into the claims but its findings would have no bearing on their cases. Widodo said any concerns should have been conveyed a decade ago.

(Editing by Paul Tait)