Bali Nine: Richard Branson writes to Joko Widodo



Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson says he wants to speak to Indonesian President Joko Widodo in an effort to save those facing the death penalty in the southeast Asian country.

The Virgin founder, who’s also a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, said he was willing to go to Indonesia in an effort to save those facing execution.

“What we would love to do is speak with the president of Indonesia and try to give them a way forward, a positive way forward for its country,” the British entrepreneur told the ABC on Wednesday morning.

“We have written to the president saying if he will have us we would love to come and talk … we want to be as constructive as possible.

“All we’re saying is there is a better approach.”

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Sir Richard, along with other Global Drug Commissioners, this week wrote to President Joko urging clemency for those currently on death row in Indonesia, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

The letter, which described the death penalty as inhumane, said the drug trade remained unaffected by the threat of capital punishment.

Sir Richard told the ABC he was willing to get on a plane bound for Indonesia as early as Wednesday.

“I am willing to go and get on a plane today, tomorrow … as are a number of the other commissioners,” he said.

He said research showed it was better to “treats drugs as a health issue not as a criminal issue”.

“It actually helps lower the number of drug deaths, it limits the spread of infectious diseases like HIV and AIDS or hepatitis C, and it reduces drug-related crime,” he said.

Sir Richard’s call comes as Prime Minister Tony Abbott continues to plead for the lives of Chan and Sukumaran.

The two Bali Nine ringleaders are in isolation on the Indonesian penal island of Nusakambangan, awaiting the outcome of legal appeals against their execution.

Mr Abbott is waiting to hear whether his request to speak again to President Joko about the fate of the two Australians will be accepted.

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