18 Jan 2015

Ambassadors recalled after executions

6:30 pm on 18 January 2015

Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors from Indonesia and expressed fury after Jakarta defied their pleas and executed six convicted drugs offenders by firing squad, including two of their citizens.

Indonesian police stand guard as ambulances transport the bodies of executed drug convicts from Nusakambangan prison in Cilacap.

Indonesian police stand guard as ambulances transport the bodies of executed drug convicts from Nusakambangan prison in Cilacap. Photo: AFP

Convicts from Vietnam, Malawi and Nigeria, and one Indonesian, were also among those put to death just after midnight, the first executions carried out under new President Joko Widodo.

Indonesia has tough anti-drugs laws and Mr Widodo, who took office in October, has disappointed rights activists by voicing support for capital punishment despite his image as a reformist.

A spokesman for Brazilian President Dilma Roussef said she was "distressed and outraged" after Indonesia ignored her last-ditch pleas and put to death Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, who was convicted of smuggling cocaine into Indonesia in 2004.

"Using the death penalty, which is increasingly rejected by the international community, seriously affects relations between our countries," the spokesman said in a statement.

The Brazilian ambassador to Jakarta was being recalled for consultations, the spokesman added.

Meanwhile Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said the Netherlands had also recalled its ambassador over the execution of Dutchman Ang Kiem Soei, and described all six deaths as "terribly sad" in a statement.

"My heart goes out to their families, for whom this marks a dramatic end to years of uncertainty," Koenders said. "The Netherlands remains opposed to the death penalty."

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte had been in contact with the Indonesian president about the matter, he said, and the government had done "all in its power" to attempt to halt the execution.

Indonesia says executions 'in line with law'

However a spokesman for the office of Indonesia's attorney general, Tony Spontana, insisted the executions were in line with Indonesian law.

"We carried this out in accordance with our laws," he told AFP. "We have been given the authority to carry out the court's verdict and it is wrong if we fail to do so."

All the prisoners, who had been sentenced to death between 2000 and 2011, were executed around the same time shortly after midnight, Mr Spontana said.

The 53-year-old Brazilian, who was caught with drugs stashed in the frame of his paraglider at Jakarta airport, and Dutchman, 62, were executed on Nusakambangan Island, home to a high-security prison, off the coast of the main island of Java.

A Nigerian, Daniel Enemuo; Namaona Denis, from Malawi; and an Indonesian woman, Rani Andriani, were executed at the same location.

The sixth convict, Vietnamese woman Tran Thi Bich Hanh, was executed in Boyolali district in central Java.

They were all caught attempting to smuggle drugs apart from the Dutchman, who was sentenced to death for operating a huge factory producing ecstasy.

All of them had their appeals for clemency to the president - their last chance to avoid the firing squad - rejected last month.

Jakarta had an unofficial moratorium on executions for several years from 2008 but resumed capital punishment again in 2013. There were no executions last year.

President Widodo, known as Jokowi, has taken a particularly hard line towards people on death row for narcotics offences, insisting they will not receive a presidential pardon as Indonesia is facing an "emergency" due to high levels of drug use.

Following Sunday's executions, the number of people on death row in Indonesia for drugs-related offences stood at 60, around half of whom are foreigners, said a spokesman for the national narcotics agency.

Mr Widodo's tough stance has sparked concern for other foreigners sentenced to death, particularly two Australians who were part of the "Bali Nine" group caught trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia in 2005.

One of the pair, Myuran Sukumaran, also had his clemency appeal rejected last month but authorities say he will be executed with fellow Australian Andrew Chan as they committed their crime together.

Chan is still awaiting the outcome of his clemency appeal.

- AFP -

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