Australian convicts transferred to Indonesian island for execution

Australian convicts transferred to Indonesian island for execution
An armored vehicle which is believed to be carrying two Australian death row prisoners Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, leaves Kerobokan Prison for the airport, in Denpasar, on the Indonesian island of Bali, March 4, 2015.

CILACAP, Indonesia - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were transferred on Wednesday from a Bali prison to an island for execution along with other foreigners, underlining Indonesia's determination to use the death penalty despite international criticism.

The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions between Australia and Indonesia following repeated pleas for mercy on their behalf. They are among 11 death row convicts scheduled to go before a firing squad on the prison island of Nusakambangan.

Sukumaran and Chan left Bali's Kerobokan Prison in an armored van with a police escort before dawn and were taken to Denpasar airport for a flight to the Javanese port of Cilacap for the trip to Nusakambangan.

Armored vans boarded a boat in Cilacap and the Australians arrived at Nusakambangan soon after, a Reuters photographer reported.

A Frenchman and a Brazilian are already on the island. Also facing execution are citizens of the Philippines, Ghana and Nigeria, as well as Indonesia.

Indonesia's attorney general's office confirmed the transfer but is yet to give the usual public 72-hour notice of any execution.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was "revolted by the prospect of these executions", after Indonesian President Joko Widodo recently told other countries to stay out of his country's sovereign affairs.

Widodo has adopted a tough stance against drug traffickers and others on death row, denying clemency to the 11 convicts. Executions were resumed in 2013 after a five-year gap and nationals from Brazil, Malawi, the Netherlands, Nigeria and Vietnam have been among those put in front of a firing squad.

"I think there are millions of Australians who feel sick to their stomachs about what's likely to happen to these two men who committed a terrible crime, a terrible crime," Abbott told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

"The position of Australia is that we abhor drug crime but we abhor the death penalty as well, which we think is beneath a country like Indonesia."

Chan and Sukumaran were convicted in 2005 as the ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine, who were arrested at Denpasar airport for trying to smuggle 8 kg (18 lb) of heroin to Australia.

The Australian government has stressed they have been rehabilitated in prison, where they mentored younger inmates, and has warned of potential political repercussions if the executions go ahead.

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