Indonesia not Budging Over Death Row Controversy

ID-executions-620-March2015 Australian death row convict Andrew Chan (red jacket) arrives in Cilicap, Indonesia, March 4, 2015.

Amid a firestorm of criticism from abroad, Indonesia is holding firm to its plan to execute as many as 10 drug felons in coming days.

The number is “almost certainly” 10, because 130 police personnel are on standby to form the firing squads, which number 13 per squad, according to the Bahasa-language Jawa Pos.

The condemned are being moved to Nusakambangan Island, where they are expected to be shot in an open field.

The execution date will be scheduled after the last convict arrives, Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo told the paper.

“When they’ve all arrived on Nusakambangan, the decision will be made about the best time for the executions,” he said.

Indonesia was expected to set a date for the executions within a few days, Tony Spontana, spokesman for the Indonesian attorney-general’s office, said Thursday, according to Reuters.


Seven felons with death sentences are already on the island, Jawa Pos reported.

On Wednesday (March 4), Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were flown from Bali to Cilicap, Central Java, then transferred to Nusakambangan under heavy police escort.

Also Thursday, Indonesia rejected an 11th hour-appeal from the Australian government to spare the lives of Chan and Sukumaran through a prisoner swap, news wire services reported.

The offer from Australia was "not relevant," AFP quoted Indonesian Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo as saying.

"Are you willing for people who have poisoned our nation to be exchanged?" he said. "That has never been carried out, and never thought of."

Frenchman Serge Atlaoui, Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, Nigerian Raheem Agbaje Salami and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte are among others condemned to die, The Associated Press reported.

On Thursday, relatives of Atlaoui and Gularte visited them on Nusakambangan, AFP reported. The family members dashed past a scrum of journalists before boarding a boat to the prison island.

Several Indonesians are also at imminent risk of execution, according to Amnesty International, which  named them as Iyen bin Azwar, Harun bin Ajis, Sargawi and Zainal Abidin.

Diplomatic row

The pending executions, combined with Indonesia’s unwavering stance on its policy of sending drug offenders to death row, have heightened diplomatic tensions between the new government in Jakarta and its counterparts in Canberra, Paris and Brasilia.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott criticized the Indonesian government for allowing photographs of Chan and Sukumaran’s trip to the penal island to circulate in public.

These included a photo of a smiling Djoko Hari Utomo, police commissioner of Denpasar, Bali, apparently posing for a selfie with his hand on the back of a seated Chan, who was ashen-faced, AFP reported.

"I thought they were unbecoming and showed a lack of respect and dignity and we have protested to the Indonesian ambassador here in Canberra," Abbott told reporters on Friday (Australian time), according to AFP.

For his part, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has maintained that his government would show no mercy to drug offenders.

"I am still convinced that the justice system in Indonesia, if you look at drug crime, is valid and based on facts and evidence," he said in an interview with Al Jazeera, Reuters reported. "That's why when I rejected their clemency, I looked at their cases, how many drugs they were carrying."


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