Australian death-row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
Australian death-row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Firdia Lisnawati, File

Bali Nine duo spending time with family ahead of execution

''SELF portrait, 72 hours just started" states the caption on the back of Myuran Sukumaran's latest painting, created just after he and fellow Australian Andrew Chan received notice that they could be killed as early as tomorrow night.

Family and friends converged yesterday on the prison island of Nusakambangan, in central Java, after Indonesia moved to end the agonising waiting game for the two Australians and up to seven other convicted drug criminals, giving them the legally required three days' notice of execution.
 

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As the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, added his voice to international appeals to Indonesia to show clemency, the execution date remained unclear.

Lawyers for two of the prisoners - Filipina Mary Jane Veloso and Nigerian Raheem Agbaje Salami - said their clients had been notified that they would face a firing squad on Tuesday. However, the two Australians have not been given a date, and Indonesian authorities have said it could be any time after the 72 hours expire.

The Attorney-General's office has also indicated that the executions will not go ahead until the Supreme Court has ruled on an appeal by the sole Indonesian in the group, Zainal Abidin. The court has reportedly said it will hear that case today.

However, Abidin's lawyer said Indonesian authorities had already contacted his family, asking where they wanted him to be buried. "It really upsets the family. It's as if they already know the outcome, that it's [the appeal] going to get rejected," said Ade Yuliawan.

The only person given a temporary reprieve is Frenchman Serge Atlaoui, whose lawyers are waiting for a date for an appeal hearing. The reprieve reportedly follows diplomatic pressure by France.

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop, said she "feared the worst" for Sukumaran - who has taken up painting while in prison - and Chan. She appealed again to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to show clemency, saying: "It's not too late for a change of heart."

Chan and Sukumaran were arrested in April 2005 and convicted of being the ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine, who tried to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin from Indonesia to Australia. Sukumaran gave art classes to fellow prisoners in Bali's Kerobokan jail, while Chan became a lay pastor and led services. Both men preached on the evils of drugs.

Ban's spokesman said: "The Secretary General appeals to the government of Indonesia to refrain from carrying out the execution, as announced, of 10 prisoners on death row for alleged drug-related crimes."

Ban also urged Widodo to "urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia, with a view toward abolition."

Sukumaran's sister, Brintha, made an emotional appeal for his life to be spared in a YouTube video. "My brother made a mistake 10 years ago and he's paid for this mistake every single day since then. From the bottom of my heart, please, President Widodo, have mercy on my brother."
 


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