Coffins arrive at Indonesian prison as executions near
Ambulances carrying coffins arrived Tuesday at a prison island and relatives paid final visits to their condemned loved ones in a sign that Indonesia will imminently execute eight foreigners and one Indonesian man, despite an international outcry and pleas for mercy.
The nine inmates, all convicted on drug charges, were given 72-hour notices over the weekend that they would be executed by a firing squad, prompting a flurry of last-minute lobbying by foreign leaders. The United Nations has argued that the inmates’ crimes are not egregious enough to warrant the ultimate punishment.
Indonesia has not confirmed exactly when the executions will take place. But the arrival of coffins and visits by families, along with Indonesia’s usual execution protocol, suggest the inmates will be shot by the firing squad shortly after midnight Tuesday.
Among the condemned are two Australians — Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31 — whose emotional families made what could be their last visit to Besi prison on Nusakambangan island, where the prisoners are scheduled to die. Sukumaran’s sister, Brintha, wailed in agony and had to be carried through a crowd of media waiting at the ferry port to the island.
Chan received a visit from Febyanti Herewila, an Indonesian Christian pastor who became his wife in a marriage ceremony on the island on Monday.
A dozen ambulances, nine carrying coffins, were driven onto the ferry to Nusakambangan. On the dashboard of one ambulance was a piece of paper bearing the name of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino woman who is among those scheduled to die.
Over the weekend, authorities asked the nine inmates — the two Australians and Veloso, as well as four Nigerian men and one man each from Brazil and Indonesia — for their last wishes and gave them 72-hour notices of their executions.
On Tuesday, Australia’s foreign minister defended Prime Minister Tony Abbott against online criticism that he had not done enough to save the lives of Sukumaran and Chan.
Australian actors including Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, Joel Edgerton and Bryan Brown have launched an online video calling for Indonesia to show mercy to the two men.
But Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian government was acting on advice from Australian diplomats in Jakarta who were part of a sustained campaign seeking a stay of execution.
The head of Europe’s human rights watchdog on Tuesday urged Indonesia not to carry out the executions. The France-based Council of Europe holds its 47 member countries accountable to the European Convention on Human Rights, which opposes the death penalty.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III appealed to Widodo on Monday to spare the life of Veloso, the Filipino drug convict, in a meeting on the sidelines of an annual summit of Southeast Asian leaders in Malaysia.
Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao also appealed to Widodo to spare Veloso’s life.
Veloso’s two sons and her mother were seen arriving at the prison for a final visit.
Brintha Sukumaran, center, sister of Myuran Sukumaran, an Australian on death row, cries upon arrival at Wijayapura ferry port to cross to the prison island of Nusakambangan, in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia on Tuesday, April 28. Indonesia notified nine foreigners and a local man convicted of drug trafficking over the weekend that their executions will be carried out within days, ignoring appeals by the U.N. chief and foreign leaders to spare them.