Death row convicts transfer delayed

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Published: Wednesday 18th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Indonesia has postponed the transfer of six convicted drug smugglers to a prison island for execution.

The authorities said the delay was due to technical problems and to allow the two Australians among them to spend more time with their families.

They are among eight convicts who are facing imminent execution despite international appeals for clemency.

They include Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of a group of nine Australians arrested in 2005 for attempting to smuggle 18.3lbs of heroin to Australia from the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

The a uthorities had said on Monday that the eight would be moved this week to Nusa Kambangan prison off the main island of Java.

Two convicts are already being held on the island while six others would be moved from Bali, East Java, Yogyakarta, Banten and Sumatran province of Palembang.

But attorney general’s office spokesman Tony Spontana said that the island was not ready to handle the executions.

He said the inmates would be transferred after the location is ready, but did not give a time frame.

Mr Spontana said “the execution plan is still on schedule” since the inmates’ clemency appeals have been rejected.

“The change is the plan of transfer, which was to have been carried out this week,” he said, adding that prison officials have suggested the transfers take place three days before the executions.

The postponement was also in response to requests from Australia’s government to allow Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 33, to spend more time with their families, Mr Spontana said. The two are being held in a prison in Bali.

The other convicts to be executed are five men from France, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria and Indonesia, and a woman from the Philippines.

Mr Spontana said Rodrigo Gularte, the Brazilian prisoner who is already in Nusa Kambangan, needs medical examination due to mental illness.

“Due to lack of facilities, the attorney general is considering permission for being examined outside Nusa Kambangan,” he said.

Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has rejected appeals by Australia’s government for clemency for Chan and Sukumaran, and has vowed not to grant mercy to any other drug offenders because Indonesia is suffering a “drug emergency”.

Australia has abolished capital punishment and opposes executions of any Australian overseas.

The seven other members of the group – dubbed the “Bali Nine” by Australian media – received prison sentences from 20 years to life.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said he was continuing to make personal representations to Mr Widodo to spare the Australians’ lives.

“This is an encouraging sign, but that’s all it is,” he said, referring to the prisoner transfer postponement. “It certainly isn’t an indication that there is now a serious prospect of clemency.”

He made his strongest indication yet that Indonesia would face diplomatic consequences if it rejected Australia’s appeals for clemency.

“We will be making our displeasure known. We will be letting Indonesia know in absolutely unambiguous terms that we feel grievously let down,” he said.

Six former Australian prime ministers – Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard – on Monday added their voices to calls to spare the Australians.

Indonesian foreign minister Retno Lestari Marsudi said she understands the position of Australia’s government to give representation on their behalf, but noted that the death penalty is part of Indonesian law.

“The decision to impose the death penalty by the Indonesian court is not directed to a particular country or a national of certain country.” she said.

“It should be underlined that the issue is purely law enforcement, a law enforcement against serious crime, law enforcement by a sovereign country, Indonesia.”

Indonesia has 133 people on death row, including 57 for drug crimes and two terrorists.

Published: Wednesday 18th February 2015 by The News Editor

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