Australia protests Indonesia's treatment of death row men

Australia protests Indonesia's treatment of death row men

SYDNEY - Australia issued a formal protest to Indonesia Friday after photos emerged of a smiling senior police officer posing with the two men due to face the firing squad, as it was confirmed that the executions would not happen this week.

Prime Minster Tony Abbott expressed outrage over the photographs taken on board the plane used to transport Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran from Bali to the so-called "execution island" of Nusakambangan.

"I thought they were unbecoming and showed a lack of respect and dignity and we have protested to the Indonesian ambassador here in Canberra," Abbott told reporters of the pictures that were widely published in Australia.

The two men were the ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" drug trafficking gang and were moved on Wednesday to the place where they are due to be killed, amid intense protest from Canberra.

They are among a group of drug convicts, including foreigners from France, Brazil, the Philippines, Nigeria and Ghana, who are expected to be executed at the same time on the prison island of Nusakambangan.

Authorities confirmed Friday at the executions would not take place this week.

The convicts must be given 72 hours' notice before they are shot dead and the spokesman for the Indonesian attorney-general's office Tony Spontana said that the legal process for Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso was not yet complete.

'Incredibly insensitive'

The pictures that sparked the upset showed a smiling Denpasar police chief commissioner Djoko Hari Utomo apparently posing with his hand on the back of a seated Chan, who was ashen-faced.

Another showed the commissioner placing his hand on the shoulder of Sukumaran, who was looking up at him.

Treasurer Joe Hockey added that the treatment of the pair had been inappropriate.

"It was incredibly insensitive, it's almost macabre the way this has been handled by the Indonesian authorities," he said.

Australia also expressed dismay at the level of security laid on for the transport of the two men, with dozens of armed police on hand.

The Australians, in their early 30s, were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia. They recently lost their appeals for presidential clemency, typically the final chance to avoid the firing squad.

Australia on Thursday proposed a prisoner swap in an 11th-hour bid to save them, but it was rejected by Jakarta which said the men had "poisoned our nation".

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Friday brushed aside concerns about Australia's mounting anger at plans to execute the pair.

"It doesn't matter," he responded when asked about the issue in East Java.

"We are good friends, this (the death penalty) is another area."

'Go to hell'

Spontana told reporters in Jakarta the executions "will not be this week".

"There are facilities which are not ready yet in Nusakambangan, we want everything to be 100 per cent ready, and we take into consideration and must respect the ongoing legal process," he said.

He added that nine death row convicts had been transferred to the island but that the tenth, Veloso, could not be transferred because of an application for a judicial review of her sentence.

A local court this week referred her application to the Supreme Court to make a ruling.

Spontana said the prisoners were not in isolation cells yet and that Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo would officially announce the execution date at a later time.

Convicts are placed in isolation before they are put to death.

On Friday, a group of around two dozen protesters demonstrated in Cilacap, the port town that is the gateway to Nusakambangan, carrying signs advocating the death penalty for drug traffickers.

"Go to hell drug criminals," read one banner, with another claiming the death penalty was the only way to save Indonesia's youth.

The demonstrators then burnt a life-sized straw doll wrapped in a white sheet, that represented a young Indonesian victim of drugs.

As well as Australia, Brazil and France - whose citizen Serge Atlaoui is on death row - have piled pressure on Jakarta, with Paris summoning Indonesia's envoy and the Brazilian president refusing to accept the credentials of the new Indonesian ambassador.

Canberra has warned Jakarta that Chan and Sukumaran's execution would have implications, not just in Australia but globally.

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