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Indonesia criticised on executions

Published 27/04/2015

Protesters wearing masks of convicted Filipino Mary Jane Veloso attend a demonstration, demanding the government to stop her execution (AP)
Protesters wearing masks of convicted Filipino Mary Jane Veloso attend a demonstration, demanding the government to stop her execution (AP)

Australia wants corruption allegations against Indonesian judges investigated before their death sentences against two Australian drug traffickers are carried out, the foreign minister has said.

The Australians, Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, are among nine drug traffickers who were given 72-hour notices over the weekend that they will be executed by a firing squad.

Indonesian authorities say that the Australians have exhausted all avenues of appeal.

But Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop argued that the men should not be executed while they have an unresolved case before Indonesia's Constitutional Court and while Indonesia's Judicial Commission investigates claims of corruption in the pair's original trial.

According to Australia's Fairfax Media, Sukumaran and Chan's original Indonesian lawyer, Muhammad Rifan, said the trial judges originally asked for a 1 million rupiah (£50) bribe to pass sentences of less than 20 years.

Mr Rifan alleged that the deal fell through after the judges later said that they had been ordered by senior legal and government figures to impose the death penalty.

Mr Rifan said the judges then "started asking for a lot more money" to provide a lesser sentence, but the pair did not have any more money, Fairfax Media reported today.

Indonesian attorney general Muhammad Prasetyo said the bribery case had no bearing on the executions.

"It does not affect the executions because all their (Sukumaran's and Chan's) rights have been fulfilled," Mr Prasetyo said.

The two were sentenced to death in February 2006 for leading an Australian smuggling group dubbed the Bali Nine.

They were arrested in 2005 after a tip-off from Australian police while trying to smuggle more than 18lb (8kg) of heroin from Bali to Sydney. The rest were sentenced to prison terms.

Sukumaran and Chan have provided sworn statements to the Judicial Commission, which safeguards the probity of judges, Fairfax Media reported.

Ms Bishop said she contacted her Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, last night in a bid to prevent the executions. She said the Australians should not be killed while two legal cases were outstanding.

"There have been some allegations made in relation to the trial and I said that Australia, indeed the international community, would expect those legal processes to be concluded before any other action was taken," Ms Bishop told reporters in Sydney about her conversation with Ms Marsudi.

"I would anticipate that both proceedings - the Constitutional Court proceedings and the Judicial Commission - would require to hear evidence. I would anticipate that they would need to hear evidence from Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, and therefore, my request that these proceedings be allowed to continue and that there be a stay of execution," she said.

Ms Bishop and Australian prime minister Tony Abbott continued to lobby Indonesia today, saying it was not too late for Indonesia to have a change of heart.

Authorities have asked the two Australians, four Nigerian men, a Filipino woman, and one man each from Brazil and Indonesia for their last wish and given them a 72-hour notice of their executions, a spokesman for the Indonesian attorney general, Tony Spontana, said Sunday.

Attorney general Mr Prasetyo said that another convict, Frenchman Serge Atlaoui, would not be executed with the others because he still has an outstanding legal complaint over the rejection of his clemency appeal.

Mr Prasetyo said Atlaoui would later face a firing squad alone if his complaint is turned down by the Administrative Court.

Similar appeals by Sukumaran and Chan were rejected by the Administrative Court and the High Administrative Court, with both ruling that clemency is the prerogative of the president.

The 72-hour notice indicates that executions by firing squad in Besi prison on Nusakambangan Island will be carried out at the earliest tomorrow or Wednesday.

Philippine president Benigno Aquino III appealed to Indonesian president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to spare Filipino drug convict Mary Jane Veloso's life in a meeting on the sidelines of an annual summit of South-east Asian leaders in Malaysia.

Jokowi "was sympathetic" and promised to respond to Mr Aquino's appeal later today after consulting with Indonesia's attorney general, Mr Aquino spokesman Herminio Coloma told reporters.

Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao also appealed to Jokowi to spare Veloso's life.

"I am begging and knocking at your kind heart that your excellency will grant executive clemency to her by sparing her life and saving her from execution," Pacquiao said in a live interview from Los Angeles with Philippine network GMA News.

But today the Sleman District Court in Central Java rejected a second appeal for judicial review by Veloso, while the Indonesian Supreme Court in Jakarta turned down a final appeal by Indonesian Zainal Abidin.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon urged Jokowi yesterday to "urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia, with a view toward abolition".

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