Australian Halen Chan, right, the mother of death-row prisoner Andrew Chan, walks with Australian Consul-General to Bali, Majell Hind, left, as they leave after visiting Andrew Chan at the Kerobokan Prison in Bali, on Feb. 15, 2015. (EPA Photo/Made Nagi)

Indonesia to Press On With Executions


FEBRUARY 15, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia is pressing on with preparations to execute up to six of 11 inmates on death row, including seven foreign citizens involved in drug trafficking, despite growing protests from the international community.

Five foreigners were among the six people executed last month -- the first since President Joko Widodo took office in October.

While Indonesian authorities have not officially announced when the executions would take place, several officials have said that a number will face the firing squad later this week on Nusa Kambangan Island in Cilacap, Central Java.

"We have been preparing the execution. It's just a matter of coordination because they were in five different places to be brought to Nusa Kambangan," a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, Tony Spontana, said on Sunday.

The National Police said that they had prepared firing squads and officers to guard the process of moving the inmates to Nusa Kambangan.

Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo said on Friday that the number of people to be executed would not exceed those executed in the first round last month.

Local and international human rights groups have raised protested against the executions while Australia's government has repeatedly warned Jakarta of a possible deterioration of relations if Indonesia goes ahead with the execution.

Drug trafficking carries harsh penalties in Indonesia, including capital punishment, which resumed in 2013 after a five-year hiatus.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed on Friday to Indonesia to not execute prisoners on death row for drug crimes.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban had spoken with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Thursday "to express his concern at the recent application of capital punishment in Indonesia."

"The United Nations opposes the death penalty under all circumstances," Dujarric said in a statement on Friday. "The secretary general appeals to the Indonesian authorities that the executions of the remaining prisoners on death row for drug-related offenses not be carried out."

Responding to the UN chief, Indonesia's foreign ministry spokesman confirmed that Foreign Affairs Minister Retno has received the letter, adding that Indonesia would not back off from its position.

He said the death penalty was in accordance with Indonesian law and did not conflict with respect for human rights as governed by the Constitution.

Nationals of Brazil, Malawi, Nigeria, the Netherlands and Vietnam were executed by firing squad in January. Two Australians as well as one citizen each of France, the Philippines, Ghana, Brazil and Spain have been included in the list to be executed soon.

Prasetyo said earlier this month that the two Australians -- Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31 -- were among the prisoners due for execution after Joko rejected their clemency pleas in January.

The case of the two Australian men threatens to strain already fragile relations between Australia and Indonesia.

The two were identified as leaders of the so-called Bali Nine, a group of nine arrested on the resort island in 2005 and convicted of attempting to smuggle some 8 kilograms of heroin to Australia. Other members of the group have been sentenced to long prison terms.

"I beg him [Joko] again and again to please forgive them and give them, both of them, a second chance," Sukumaran's tearful grandmother Edith Visvanathan told reporters.

While all hope appears to be lost, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott put pressure on Jakarta for a second day in a row.

On Sunday, Abbott warned of a tough diplomatic response.

"Millions of Australians are feeling sickened by what might be about to happen in Indonesia," he told Channel Ten. "If these executions go ahead, and I hope they don't, we will certainly be finding ways to make our displeasure felt."

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop last week warned Jakarta that her fellow citizens could boycott Indonesia, including Bali, which is a popular holiday spot for travelers.

Abbott also stepped up criticism of Indonesia for trying to save its own citizens on death row in other countries for drug trafficking while rejecting pleas from Australia.

"What we are asking of Indonesia is what Indonesia asks of other countries when its citizens are on death row," he said. "If it's right for Indonesia to ask and expect some kind of clemency, it's surely right for us to ask and expect some kind of clemency."

JG, AFP & Reuters