Families arrive in Indonesia seeking mercy for death row inmates
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Diplomats and the families of nine foreigners convicted of drugs offences, including a French national, descended on a prison island on Saturday to plead for mercy as Indonesia prepared to send the accused before a firing squad.
Consular officials were arriving at a town near Nusakambangan, the high-security prison island where its executions are carried out, and where all of the death row convicts are now congregated.
The foreigners two from Australia, one each from Brazil, France and the Philippines, three from Nigeria and another West African whose citizenship is unknown have all lost appeals for clemency from President Joko Widodo, who says that Indonesia is fighting a drugs emergency.
Two Australian drug convicts were notified on Saturday that they will be executed by firing squad within 72 hours, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
"A 72 hours notice of execution was given to 'Bali Nine' death row inmates Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on Saturday," the source told Reuters, declining to comment further.
French citizen Serge Atlaoui, 55, was arrested near Jakarta at a laboratory illegally producing ecstasy in 2005. He was sentenced to death two years later and his appeal was rejected on April 21. He was told on Saturday that he would not be in the first wave of executions, however.
Widodo has turned a deaf ear to increasingly clamorous appeals on the convicts’ behalf from their governments, from social media and from others such as band Napalm Death the president is a huge heavy metal fan.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Saturday renewed Canberra’s appeals for Widodo “to have a change of heart” but admitted she feared the worst, while France has said the execution of its citizen would be “incomprehensible”.
The family of the Filipina, Mary Jane Veloso, arrived at Cilacap, the town on Java that serves as the gateway to Nusakambangan. The father and mother, her two sons aged six and 12, and sister pushed through a scrum of waiting journalists.
“If anything bad happens to my daughter, I will hold many people accountable. They owe us my daughter’s life,” Veloso’s 55-year-old mother, Celia, told a Philippine radio station.“I hope my appeal reaches President Widodo.”
Families plea: 'From the bottom of my heart’
Meanwhile the sister of Australian drug trafficker Myuran Sukumaran issued an emotional plea for his life to be spared, appearing in a YouTube video clutching a photograph of her brother as a young boy wearing a school uniform.
“My brother made a mistake 10 years ago and he’s paid for this mistake every single day since then,” Brintha Sukumaran said.
“From the bottom of my heart, please President Widodo have mercy on my brother... change punishment for humanity.”
The family members of Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the other Australian facing imminent execution, were also en route to Cilacap. The pair, sentenced to death in 2006, are the ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” heroin-smuggling gang.
Consular officials from the countries whose citizens face execution were arriving on Saturday for a briefing from Indonesian foreign ministry officials, said Charles Jose, Philippine foreign ministry spokesman.
Jakarta has said an exact date for the executions could not be decided yet, as a judicial review was still pending for the sole Indonesian in the group of 10 people who face death by firing squad.
Indonesia’s Supreme Court said the ruling on that case could be made as early as Monday, paving the way for the executions to proceed.
Authorities said on Thursday they had ordered prosecutors to start making preparations for the executions. However convicts must be given 72 hours notice before executions are carried, and this notice is yet to be given.
Veloso’s lawyers on Friday filed another court bid to halt the process, as the Australians’ lawyers have been doing.
But all the lawyers concede that such attempts are long shots. Indonesia says all judicial reviews and appeals for clemency have been exhausted, and that the legal manoeuvres amount to delaying tactics.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)