27 Apr 2015

Australian PM pleads for clemency

3:34 pm on 27 April 2015

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott has written to Indonesia's president Joko Widodo to plead for clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in a last-ditch effort to stop the execution of the Bali Nine pair.

A 2006 file photo shows Myuran Sukumaran (right) and Andrew Chan arriving at Denpasar Court to be sentenced.

A 2006 file photo shows Myuran Sukumaran (right) and Andrew Chan arriving at Denpasar Court to be sentenced. Photo: AAP

Clearer signs are likely today of the timing for the executions of nine death row prisoners in Indonesia, including Sukumaran and Chan.

Indonesia has given the men 72 hours' notice of their executions, meaning they could be taken to face the firing squad any time after Tuesday night.

A public announcement on timing could come as early as today in Jakarta, once courts dispense with a legal appeal by Indonesian death row prisoner Zainal Abidin.

Mr Abbott is still waiting to speak to Mr Widodo directly about the case, after requesting a phone call with him more than seven weeks ago.

He also wrote to Mr Widodo over the weekend to plead for clemency for the pair.

Speaking from the French World War I battlefield of Villers-Bretonneux overnight, Mr Abbott said Australia had been making representations at "every possible level" for months and would not give up, even at this late stage.

"We abhor the death penalty, we oppose it at home, we oppose it abroad," he said.

"I want to reassure Australians that even at this late hour, we are continuing to make the strongest possible representations to the Indonesian Government that this is not in the best interests of Indonesia, let alone in the interests of the young Australians concerned."

Australians Myuran Sukumaran (R) and Andrew Chan (L), the two ringleaders of the "Bali Nine" drug ring, are moved by police for prison after their verdicts were announced in Denpasar, on Bali island, 14 February 2006.

Andrew Chan, left, and Myuran Sukumaran, right, in 2006. Photo: AFP

Meanwhile, a former lawyer for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran told Fairfax media the judges who sentenced the pair to death were willing to give a lighter sentence.

Bali-based Mohammad Rifan alleged the judges initially asked for a payment AU$130,000 in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

Chan and Sukumaran's Australian lawyer Peter Morrissey said the planned executions must be postponed while the allegation of judicial corruption is investigated.

"The allegation being made is a pretty heavy one," Mr Morrissey said.

"It's a demand for payment to change the sentence.

"You would think maybe that's a very good reason not to proceed with the punishment because it might turn out that the punishment was delivered very unjustly."

Plea for mercy in legal system

Since the 72 hours' notice was given, relatives and friends of Chan and Sukurmaran have been visiting them in the Nusakambangan prison off the Javanese coast.

Michael Chan, the brother of Andrew Chan, yesterday said: "Somewhere in the legal system for Indonesia there has got to be mercy."

"The president needs to show that now... he's the only one that can stop it."

Sukurmaran, who has studied art while in prison, has asked to be allowed to spend his final days painting.

"He's found peace with what may happen but he, as we all, feel this is a grave injustice and it did not have to be this way," his brother Chintu Sukumaran said.

"My brother has asked for [his] last request to be able to paint for as long and as much as possible."

The Australian Government has described the executions as "imminent".

Myuran Sukumaran (L) and Andrew Chan (R) wait inside a detention room in Bali.

Myuran Sukumaran (L) and Andrew Chan (R) wait inside a detention room in Bali. Photo: AFP

Other governments also plead for mercy

The governments of France, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines are also pleading for mercy for their nationals who are also scheduled to face the firing squad.

Lawyer Andre Olalia represents Filipino woman Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso.

Veloso has refused to sign any document accepting the death sentence and, like the Australian lawyers here, Mr Olalia is fighting for time.

"What is the price to pay? The price to pay is one innocent life. That's the most important thing," he said.

"Help us tell the whole world it is not yet over. There is still a legal process. So please, why the rush, please pause."

Veloso's family, relatives of the Brazilian prisoners and those who support Chan and Sukumaran will return to the execution island for another lengthy visit today.

Without phones or electronic devices allowed on the visit, they could return to the mainland to discover news on how many more day trips they will be allowed.

Meanwhile, former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has reportedly cancelled a three-day visit to Perth this week.

The West Australian newspaper said Dr Yudhoyono was due to arrive midweek and speak at the University of Western Australia on Friday.

The event would have been attended by Ms Bishop and Premier Colin Barnett.

- ABC -

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