Bali Nine: court to hear appeal Thursday

An Indonesian court will hear an appeal by Bali Nine death row inmates Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on Thursday.

The legal challenge is an appeal against president Joko Widodo’s refusal to grant them clemency and a last-ditch effort to halt the looming executions.

The Administrative Court last month dismissed a bid to challenge that decision, saying clemency was the president’s prerogative which it had no right to overturn.

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Sukumaran and Chan’s lawyers lodged an appeal against that dismissal and were awaiting judgement.


Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan remain on death row. Photo: ABC

“The next hearing on Thursday will be the response from the president’s team about our challenge,” one of the pair’s lawyers, Doly James, said.

“The reason for the rejection of clemency was unclear, when we had been very clear why these two deserved clemency.”

Sukumaran and Chan were sentenced to death in 2006 for a plot to smuggle heroin into Australia.

Indonesian authorities last week moved the pair from Bali to the prison island of Nusakambangan, indicating that they would soon be executed.

Tony Spontana, a spokesman for the country’s attorney-general, then said the executions would be on hold until all legal avenues were explored.

“We also pay attention and give respect to the legal process that is currently occurring,” he said.

Widodo defends decision to reject clemency

At the weekend, Mr Widodo defended his decision to reject clemency for foreigners in an interview with Al Jazeera.

“About 4.5 million people need to be rehabilitated because of the drugs,” he said.

“Please do not only see the traffickers but also the impact of the drugs trafficking.

“Please do visit the (drugs) rehabilitation centre when they are screaming due to the drugs addiction.

“People must see this from both side, not only from one side.”


Australian death row inmates Sukumaran and Chan arriving on Cilacap, Indonesia, last week. Photo: ABC

But Mr Widodo said his government would be open to abolishing the death penalty if the Indonesian people wanted change.

“The constitution and existing laws still allow (the death penalty) but in the future if it is necessary to change it and the people really want it, why not?” he said.

“I think we want to listen to what people want first. It’s still a long time to go through and I do not want to talk about the issue now.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the weekend said he had “requested a conversation” with Widodo.

“I’ve had several conversations already with him on this subject,” he said.

“I’ve requested another one. At this stage, it hasn’t been able to be arranged.”

Relatives of Chan and Sukumaran are due to visit the men on Nusakambangan for the first time on Monday. Regular visiting days on the island are Mondays and Wednesdays.

The men 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 island.

The looming sentences have sparked diplomatic tensions between Australia and Indonesia, with Canberra warning that the execution of the two Australians would have implications, not just in Australia but globally.


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