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Halt Indonesia drug executions until graft claims probed: Australia

27 April 2015, 15:07

Sydney - Australia urged Indonesia Monday to ensure the trials of two men sentenced to death on drugs charges were corruption free before their executions go ahead, as family members readied to say their last goodbyes.

"Bali Nine" drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan could face the firing squad within days, along with others from Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and an Indonesian prisoner.

Australian media showed photos of crosses prepared by a mortician that will be used to mark their coffins, inscribed with the date 29.04.2015.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi on Sunday evening, while Prime Minister Tony Abbott has written to President Joko Widodo to again plead for the executions to be halted.

Bishop said the men should not be shot while legal questions remain.

"I should point out that Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran's lawyers are pursuing action before the Constitutional Court in Indonesia," Bishop told ABC radio.

"And there's also a separate investigation underway by the Indonesian Judicial Commission into claims of corruption into the original trial and both of these processes raise questions about the integrity of the sentencing and the clemency process.

"I've asked foreign minister Marsudi that no action be taken in relation to the proposed executions until these legal processes have been determined," she added.

On Monday, Fairfax Media published allegations of corruption by the judges who sentenced the pair in 2006, claiming they asked for more than one billion rupiah -- around Aus$133,000 at the time -- to give them a prison term of less than 20 years.

It cited their then Indonesian lawyer, Muhammad Rifan, who claimed a deal fell through after intervention by Jakarta, which allegedly ordered the pair be handed the death penalty.

He said he decided to go public given the executions were imminent and the judicial commission, the Indonesian body that safeguards the probity of judges, had yet to complete its investigation into the alleged requests for bribes.

"This is an extraordinary situation because it is about lives. If they are dead they cannot be brought back again," he said.

At least one of the judges in the case denied to Fairfax there had been political interference or negotiations about bribes.

Also read: 1 000s beg Australia not to deport autistic Filipino boy

- One last chance -

Judicial Commission chief Taufiqurrahman Syahuri told AFP its report was being processed.

"We have 100 days to examine that report of violation of the code of ethics by judges. So we have until May," he said, adding that only a higher court could change the death penalty verdict.

"The executions will still go on. Our decision has totally no influence on the verdict or the executions."

The families of Chan, Sukumaran and Philippine convict Mary Jane Veloso arrived at the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, where Indonesia puts condemned prisoners to death, on Monday for what could be one of their last visits.

The Sydney Morning Herald said prosecutors had informed Chan and Sukumaran's relatives that they must leave Nusakambangan for the last time on Tuesday afternoon.

"We beg you to give my younger sister, as a mother of two young boys, one last chance," Veloso's sister Marites Veloso-Laurente told reporters in Cilicap, near the island prison.

Bishop again warned Indonesia its international standing could be damaged by the executions.

"I have made the point publicly and privately that this could harm Indonesia's international standing and when the secretary-general of the United Nations weighs into the debate I think that this is a global issue," she said.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon added his voice to appeals for the convicts to be spared on Saturday.

Sukumaran and Chan, along with the others facing the firing squad, recently lost appeals for mercy to Widodo, who has taken a hard line against drug traffickers and refused to back down despite mounting international criticism.



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