The families of convicted drug smugglers held farewell meetings in an Indonesian prison Tuesday, after the government rejected last-ditch pleas for mercy. The condemned include two Australians who led the “Bali Nine” smuggling group.
Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were the ringleaders of a group that was caught trying to smuggle heroin out of Bali in 2005. Their seven couriers have received either lengthy or life prison sentences.
In addition to the Australians, three convicts from Nigeria and one each from the Philippines, Brazil, Ghana and Indonesia are to be tied to posts and killed by a firing squad tonight. The case of Sukumaran and Chan has attracted wide attention, in part because the pair have reportedly reformed themselves in the nearly 10 years since their arrest.
The case has also shown the limits of the influence wielded by Australia, which has abolished capital punishment, on Indonesia, one of its closest neighbors and a popular tourism destination. Indonesia and President Joko Widodo have rejected several nations’ requests for clemency in the cases.
Prisoner Mary Jane Veloso of the Philippines has also been the subject of a last-minute push to save her life, over allegations that the mother of two had been forced into being a drug courier by a human trafficker. Pleas from Philippine President Benigno Aquino and boxer Manny Pacquiao were rebuffed this week.
The exact timing of the executions hasn’t been announced, but a three-day warning period expires at midnight Tuesday, and it’s widely believed that in the early hours of Wednesday (local time), the punishment will be carried out. Indonesia is 12 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time.
“I won’t see my son again and they are going to take him tonight and shoot him and he is healthy and he is beautiful and he has a lot of compassion for other people,” Raji Sukumaran said, according to Australia’s ABC news agency. “I am asking the government not to kill him, please president, please don’t kill him today.”
The case has drawn international protests. This week, Australian celebrities including actor Geoffrey Rush put out a YouTube video calling for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to intervene.
From Sydney, Stuart Cohen reports for our Newscast unit:
“Australia’s attorney general today became the latest official to appeal to Indonesian authorities, saying there are still serious questions about the legitimacy of their original trial that need to be resolved.
“But most people trying to save the two Australians say it’s unlikely at this late hour that the executions won’t go ahead.”
Some of those questions about the case include allegations of bribery, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports.