Coffins ar­rive at In­done­sian pri­son as ex­e­cu­tions near

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY TATAN SYU­FLANA

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.

AP

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.

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