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Indonesia executes eight drug convicts, Filipina not among them

An Indonesian police firing squad boards a boat in Cilacap to cross to Nusakambangan maximum security prison island on April 28, 2015
An Indonesian police firing squad boards a boat in Cilacap to cross to Nusakambangan maximum security prison island on April 28, 2015 AFP PHOTO / AZKA

Eight drug convicts were executed by an Indonesian firing squad early on Wednesday, local media said, but a Filipina who was on death row with the Australians, Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian was unexpectedly not among them.

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Filipina convict Mary Jane Veloso was convicted of trying to smuggle heroin into Indonesia but claims she was duped by international drug syndicates.

Local media said she was spared after someone suspected of recruiting her and tricking her into carrying drugs to Indonesia turned herself in to authorities in the Philippines.

After hearing of the 11th hour reprieve, her mother told Philippine radio: "Miracles do come true."

There was no immediate official confirmation that the eight men had been executed. French national Serge Atlaoui is also on death row, but his appeal is still under review.

President Joko Widodo, who believes Indonesia is facing an emergency due to rising drugs use, has signalled his determination to push on with the executions despite mounting international condemnation led by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo repeated the government's tough stance on Tuesday, telling reporters: "This is not a pleasant job, but it has to be done... to save this nation from drugs."

The death penalties have strained ties between Australia and Indonesia in particular.

Hours before the expected executions, crowds gathered in cities across Australia to hold vigils for Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the two Australians on death row, holding placards and calling on the government to respond strongly if the executions proceed.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

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