Aussie inmates' families visit Indonesian execution island

AP News
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Posted: Mar 08, 2015 10:26 PM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Relatives of two Australian death row prisoners made their first visit on Monday to the Indonesian prison island where the convicted drug traffickers are to be executed soon by firing squads.

The two, Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, were flown Wednesday from the resort island of Bali to the Nusakambangan Island prison off Indonesia's main island of Java. They are among nine foreigners and an Indonesian that the government says will be executed soon.

"We're just looking forward to seeing him," Michael Chan told reporters of his younger brother before the families took a ferry to the prison island from the port town of Cilacap.

"When we get over there, we'll give him a hug," he said.

Indonesian authorities are waiting for the death row inmates to exhaust all their legal appeals before setting execution dates. Families can visit the prison island only on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Chan and Sukumaran will take their plea for clemency to an administrative court in Jakarta on Thursday.

Their lawyer Peter Morrissey said there was still some hope for the pair.

"The main promising thing for us is that they're not dead," Morrissey told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Monday.

"The way some officials were talking, they should have been dead weeks ago," he said.

Chan and Sukumaran were the ringleaders of a gang of nine Australians who were arrested in April 2005 while trying to smuggle more than 8 kilograms (18 pounds) of heroin from Bali to Sydney.

Besides the two Australians, a Nigerian national born in Spain was also transferred to the island prison. Two other Nigerians, a Filipino woman and four men from Brazil, France, Ghana and Indonesia are also scheduled to be executed. It was not immediately known how many have been transferred to the island.

The planned executions have soured relations between Indonesia and other countries involved, especially Australia and Brazil. Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo received phone calls from some foreign leaders asking that the executions be canceled but has rejected their requests. He has vowed not to grant mercy to drug offenders because Indonesia is suffering a "drug emergency."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Sunday he was still waiting for Widodo to accept his latest request for a telephone conversation. Abbott last made a personal plea to the president on the Australians' behalf two weeks ago.