In­done­sia court re­jects death penalty ap­peals

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY AR­LINA AR­SHAD

An In­done­sian court Mon­day dis­missed an ap­peal by two Aus­tralian drug smug­glers fac­ing im­mi­nent ex­e­cu­tion, and the coun­try’s legal chief said the pair have now ex­hausted all op­tions to avoid the fir­ing squad.

Fol­low­ing the rul­ing lawyers for An­drew Chan and Myu­ran Suku­maran vowed to take the case to the con­sti­tu­tional court — but In­done­sia’s at­tor­ney-gen­eral ac­cused the legal team of “play­ing with jus- tice” and said the move would not de­lay the ex­e­cu­tions.

The state ad­min­is­tra­tive court in Jakarta up­held a de­ci­sion that it does not have the author­ity to hear a chal­lenge to Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo’s re­jec­tion of the Aus­tralians’ pleas for cle­mency.

Chan and Suku­maran, the ring­leaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug traf­fick­ing gang, were sen­tenced to death in 2006 for try­ing to smug­gle heroin out of In­done­sia.

Wi­dodo re­cently re­jected their mercy pleas, typ­i­cally the fi­nal chance to avoid ex­e­cu­tion. They are ex­pected to be ex­e­cuted soon along with other drug con­victs, in­clud­ing for­eign­ers from France, Brazil, the Philip­pines, Nige­ria and Ghana.

Jakarta has said it will wait for all legal ap­peals to be re­solved be­fore putting the group to death at the same time. Some other con­victs have lodged supreme court ap­peals, which could take weeks to re­solve.

The Aus­tralians’ legal team has mounted sev­eral at­tempts to halt the ex­e­cu­tions. In the lat­est, they called for the state ad­min­is­tra­tive court to hear an ap­peal against Wi­dodo’s cle­mency re­jec­tion, say­ing that he failed to prop­erly as­sess their re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion or give rea­sons for his de­ci­sion.

The court re­fused to ac­cept the ap­pli­ca­tion in Fe­bru­ary, and the Aus­tralians’ lawyers ap­pealed that de­ci­sion.

At a hear­ing on Mon­day pre­sid­ing Judge Ujang Ab­dul­lah up­held the orig­i­nal de­ci­sion that the court does not have ju­ris­dic­tion to

rule on the mat­ter.

‘Play­ing with jus­tice’

Af­ter the de­ci­sion, a lawyer for the Aus­tralians, Leonard Ari­to­nang, told re­porters the legal battle would con­tinue, with lawyers plan­ning to file an ap­pli­ca­tion to the con­sti­tu­tional court to re­view laws re­lated to cle­mency.

“We are still hope­ful ... they are part of a suc­cess­ful re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram,” he said, re­fer­ring to the claim from the men’s sup­port­ers that they have been suc­cess­fully re­ha­bil­i­tated dur­ing years in pri­son.

“It’s a shame that they have to die in the end. What en­cour­ages us to keep go­ing through all the op­tions is that, although they have been con­victed, in this coun­try ev­ery per­son has the right to life and to de­fend his life.”

How­ever, au­thor­i­ties have re­peat­edly in­sisted that a death row con­vict’s fi­nal chance to avoid the fir­ing squad is through pres­i­den­tial cle­mency.

Asked about the planned chal­lenge to the con­sti­tu­tional court, At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Muham­mad Pra- se­tyo said there would be no more de­lays to the ex­e­cu­tions.

“The legal process is done,” he said.

“This proves that they are sim­ply try­ing to buy time. We can say they are play­ing with jus­tice.”

The loom­ing ex­e­cu­tions have soured ties with In­done­sia’s neigh­bor and key ally, Australia, with Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott re­peat­edly ap­peal­ing for the men to be spared.

Af­ter Mon­day’s rul­ing, For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop said Can­berra was dis­ap­pointed.

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