Australian convicts transferred for planned execution on Indonesian island

Reuters

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An armored vehicle which is believed to be carrying two Australian death row prisoners Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, leaves Kerobokan Prison for the airport, in Denpasar, on the Indonesian island of Bali, March 4, 2015.Photo: Reuters An armored vehicle which is believed to be carrying two Australian death row prisoners Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, leaves Kerobokan Prison for the airport, in Denpasar, on the Indonesian island of Bali, March 4, 2015.Photo: Reuters

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Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were being transferred on Wednesday from a Bali prison to an island for execution along with other foreigners, underlining Indonesia's determination to use the death penalty despite international criticism.
The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions between Australia and Indonesia following repeated pleas of mercy for the pair, who are among 11 death row convicts scheduled to go before a firing squad.
Sukumaran and Chan left Kerobokan Prison in an armored van with a police escort before dawn and were taken to Bali's Denpasar airport for the trip to the island of Nusakambangan, where executions are carried out.
A Frenchman and a Brazilian are already on the island. Also facing execution are citizens of the Philippines, Ghana and Nigeria as well as Indonesia.
Indonesia's attorney general's office confirmed the transfer but is yet to give the traditional public 72 hour notice of any execution.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was "revolted by the prospect of these executions", after Indonesian President Joko Widodo recently told other countries to stay out of his country's sovereign affairs.
Widodo has adopted a tough stance against drug traffickers and others on death row, denying clemency to the 11 convicts. Executions were resumed in 2013 after a five-year gap and nationals from Brazil, Malawi, the Netherlands, Nigeria and Vietnam have been among those put in front of a firing squad.
"I think there are millions of Australians who feel sick to their stomachs about what's likely to happen to these two men who committed a terrible crime, a terrible crime," Abbott told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.
"The position of Australia is that we abhor drug crime but we abhor the death penalty as well, which we think is beneath a country like Indonesia."
Chan and Sukumaran were convicted in 2005 as the ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine, who were arrested at Denpasar airport for trying to smuggle 8 kg (18 lb) of heroin to Australia.
The Australian government has stressed they have been rehabilitated in prison, where they mentored younger inmates, and has warned of potential political repercussions if the executions go ahead.
A survey by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute think tank showed strong public disapproval of the executions, with 62 percent of the 1,211 people surveyed opposing the move. A social media campaign is urging Australians to boycott Bali, a popular destination.
However, one business executive in Australia criticized the government's support for the pair, saying it had soured ties with Indonesia.
"Some of the public statements made by our most senior politicians demonstrate that they have a very naive understanding of the importance of Indonesia to Australia," Peter Lynch, chairman and CEO of coal miner Cokal Ltd, told Reuters.
Cokal, which is developing a coal project in Kalimantan on Indonesia's side of Borneo island, on Tuesday received a takeover offer worth at least $54 million from Indonesian firm Cakra Mineral Tbk.
Legal appeal outstanding
Putra Surya Atmaja, head of the provincial prison division in Bali, told reporters that Sukumaran and Chan were being transferred after having "plenty of chances and time with the family".
The pair have made numerous appeals against their death penalty sentence and one of those, which challenges Widodo's refusal of clemency, is still outstanding.
Peter Morrissey, a Melbourne-based lawyer for the men, said it would be a breach of the rule of law if the executions went ahead before that was resolved.
"They're coming to terms with that ... it's a very raw time for them," Morrissey said before the early morning transfer when asked if the pair were prepared for execution.
Abbott said Australia's lobbying on behalf of the men had previously shown some promise, but he no longer wanted to hold out false hope.
"There were some suggestions earlier that perhaps at least some people in the Indonesian systems were having second thoughts but I'm afraid those signals seem to be dissipating," he said.
 
 
 

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