Indonesia says executions of 11 convicts won’t be delayed despite mercy pleas
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s president said on Tuesday the planned execution of 11 convicts on death row, most on drugs charges, would not be delayed, warning foreign countries not to intervene in his government’s right to use capital punishment.
President Joko Widodo has denied clemency to the convicts despite repeated pleas from Australia, Brazil and France, who have citizens due to be executed by firing squad. “The first thing I need to say firmly is that there shouldn’t be any intervention towards the death penalty because it is our sovereign right to exercise our law,” Widodo told reporters.
He said he took calls from the leaders of France, Brazil and the Netherlands about the death penalty but made no mention of Australia. Two Australians are among the 11 on death row. The president did not say when the executions would be carried out.
Indonesia has harsh penalties for drug trafficking and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap. Shortly before Widodo spoke, a court in Jakarta threw out an appeal by the two Australians against Widodo’s rejection of their request for presidential clemency.
“We plan to appeal today’s court decision. We have two weeks to file an appeal,” said Todung Mulya Lubis, a lawyer for the two men. “If the law is respected, the execution should be postponed until the legal process is over.”
Australia has been pursuing an eleventh-hour campaign to save the lives of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, two members of the so-called Bali Nine group of Australians, convicted in 2005 as the ringleaders of a plot to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia. Other members of the group have been sentenced to long prison terms.
Australia, which has long had rocky relations with its northern neighbour, has said it would consider recalling its ambassador to Indonesia in protest if the executions are carried out.
Brazil and the Netherlands have already withdrawn their ambassadors after Indonesia executed their citizens on drug offences last month. Brazil took the further step of refusing to allow Indonesia’s new ambassador to take part in a credentials ceremony, prompting the Southeast Asian country to recall him in protest.
Indonesia was also re-evaluating the purchase of fighter jets and rocket launchers from Brazil because of the row, its Defence Ministry said. Trade has yet to be significantly affected by the dispute. Australia is a major trading partner of Indonesia, totalling $10.64 billion in bilateral exchanges last year.
Indonesia is Australia’s largest export market for both live cattle and wheat, and a major buyer of its crude petroleum, aluminium and cotton. Trade between Indonesia and Brazil totalled $4.07 billion last year, according to Bank Indonesia. Indonesia’s largest trading partner is China with $48 billion between the two countries.