Indonesia rejects clemency for 2 of Australian 'Bali Nine' drug offenders

DENPASAR, Indonesia - Indonesia on Thursday rejected pleas for clemency for two Australians convicted of drug offences and is expected to go ahead with their executions, a move bound to strain already fragile ties between the two countries.

Australia had sought clemency for two members of the so-called Bali Nine, who were arrested in 2005 at Bali airport for attempting to smuggle 8 kg (18 lb) of heroin into Australia.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who took office in October, has pledged no clemency for drug offenders, drawing criticism from rights activists at home and abroad.

Indonesia executed six convicted drug traffickers, including five foreigners, by firing squad last week.

"It's very upsetting to hear the rejection from the president, especially because there was no explanation, no reason given," Todung Mulya Lubis, a lawyer for one of the defendants, told Reuters. "This is hurting the country's image."

Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors from Jakarta and Nigeria summoned the Indonesian ambassador in Abuja to protest last week's execution of their citizens.

Indonesia has a record of imposing severe penalties for drug trafficking, resuming executions in 2013 after a five-year gap.

It was not immediately clear when the executions would take place.

Relations between Indonesia and Australia hit a low in late 2013 after reports that Australia had spied on top Indonesian officials, including then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife.

Indonesia froze military and intelligence cooperation with Australia and restored relations in May 2014.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said this week that she would not rule out recalling the Australian ambassador should the executions be carried out.