Bali 9: Indonesia set to execute eight foreigners as families make last visit

By Michael Safi, The Guardian UK

Australian pair, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and a Filipino face a firing squad within the next 24 hours after mercy pleas for drug smugglers fail.

The distraught relatives of two Australians on death row in Indonesia had to be carried through a media pack on Tuesday as they arrived for what is expected to be their last visit to see their loved ones.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are among a group of convicted drug smugglers facing execution, which also includes four Nigerians, a Brazilian, an Indonesian and a Filipino woman.

No official time has been set for when the group will face the firing squad on an island prison off the coast of Java, but a 72-hour notice period expires at midnight on Tuesday local time (3pm GMT).

Police on Tuesday morning used dogs to clear a path through surging media at the port of Cilacap as Chan and Sukumaran’s visibly distressed relatives arrived.

Sukumaran’s sister Brintha collapsed in the melee and had to be carried into the port office by her father Sam.

An Australian journalist was bitten by a police dog, several reporters were pushed to the ground and a passer-by was shoved from a scooter in the crush around the families.

Relatives were already upset by news that Chan and Sukumaran have been denied their choice of spiritual guide in their final hours. The men will have only Christian leaders nominated by authorities to accompany them, rather than the ones they chose.

The families will spend approximately five hours with the men at the prison on Nusa Kambanang and return around 2pm local time. Last-ditch diplomatic efforts have failed to secure a reprieve for the pair.

Pleas for clemency for 30-year-old Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino woman arrested for smuggling heroin into Indonesia in 2010, have also failed. She maintains she was unaware the drugs were hidden in her suitcase.

Her two sons, aged six and 12, have visited her on the prison island, where, according to her older sister, Marites Veloso-Laurente, Veloso told them: “If Mumma does not go home, just think Mumma is in heaven.”

Vigils have been held outside Indonesian embassies in Manila, Melbourne and Sydney, but have failed to sway the country’s leader, Joko Widodo, to show clemency.

“We don’t want to make enemies with any country, but we are fighting narcotics whose impacts are horrific, especially in Indonesia,” the Indonesian attorney-general, Muhammad Prasetyo, said.

Sukumaran, 34, and Chan, 31, were sentenced to death in 2006 for their role in a plot to export 8.3kg of heroin from Bali into Australia. The remaining seven of the so-called Bali Nine were given life sentences.

Many who encountered the men during their time on death row say they were fully rehabilitated. Chan converted to Christianity and Sukumaran became an accomplished painter.

They were notified on Tuesday that the spiritual advisers they had chosen to accompany them for the remaining hours to midnight were rejected by Indonesian authorities, which Chan’s brother, Andrew, slammed as the “last bit of dignity denied”.

The artist Ben Quilty, a friend of Sukumaran, said the Sydney man would decline to be blindfolded before the firing squad.

“Myuran always said to me that he would never take this lying down; that he would stare them down, that no one would cover his eyes, that he would face it with dignity,” Quilty said in an interview on 2GB radio.

All nine prisoners will be executed together by squads of 12 gunmen, only three of whom will carrying live rounds. Ambulances arrived at Cilacap earlier on Tuesday carrying nine coffins.

The other condemned prisoners are Raheem Agbaje Salami (also known as Jamiu Owolabi Abashin), Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Martin Anderson and Okwuduli Oyatanze, all from Nigeria and Rodrigo Gularte of Brazil.

A tenth prisoner, Frenchman Serge Atlaoui, was also listed to die, but has had the sentence delayed pending a legal challenge.

Culled from The Guardian UK – http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/28/indonesia-set-to-execute-eight-foreigners-as-families-make-last-visit-to-prison







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