Friday, February 20, 2015

Joko Widodo says execution of Bali nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will not be delayed


Indonesian President Joko Widodo says there has been no delay in plans to execute Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, despite the postponement this week of their transfer to the island where they are slated to be killed.

His remarks came as Attorney-General H.M. Prasetyo was quoted as saying it was better for the pair to face a firing squad in the near future.

"We actually think the sooner the better," Prasetyo said in Jakarta. 


According to Indonesian media reports of a press conference held at the presidential palace in Bogor late on Friday, Mr Joko insisted that any postponement in the transfer was due to "technical issues", rather than pressure from Australia.

Moreover, there would be "no delay" in the executions themselves, he said.

"This is our legal sovereignty," he said. "This is only about technical matters."

The comments are the first Joko has made on the matter since last weekend, and since plans to move the pair to Nusakambangan island at midnight on Tuesday were cancelled.

Combined with Mr Prasetyo's reported remarks, they bode ill for Chan and Sukumaran. 

Mr Joko's reference to "technical matters" mirrors comments by Mr Prasetyo that the planned transfer could not go ahead because isolation rooms and executions fields were not ready on Nusakambangan.

That rationale was later disputed by officials on the island.

Another reason given was that the families of the condemned men deserved more time with them. Chan and Sukumaran were arrested in 2005 after organising the smuggling of 8.3 kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia.

Mr Joko also said the Australian government did not mean to put pressure on the Indonesian government to cancel the executions when Prime Minister Tony Abbott had brought up the tsunami relief Australia had given to Indonesia.

The Indonesian President said Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop had spoken with Vice-President Jusuf Kalla to clarify Mr Abbott's remarks that he wanted "reciprocity" in exchange for the $1 billion provided to Indonesia in 2004.  

"She has explained that it wasn't the intention. Actually we wanted to say something but since it has been explained, we cancelled it," Mr Joko said.

Ms Bishop appealed directly to Mr Kalla for an indefinite stay of execution for the Bali nine ringleaders, unveiling a fresh diplomatic push for the two countries to work together on tackling drug syndicates. 

Earlier on Friday, she told Fairfax Media she had telephoned Mr Kalla following Mr Abbott's comments pointing out the $1billion in aid Indonesia was given after the 2004 tsunami.

Those comments were viewed by many to have inflamed the already-tense relationship over the planned executions.

Ms Bishop told Fairfax Media she called Mr Kalla to clarify that Mr Abbott was not trying to link the two issues but merely emphasising the long history of support and friendship between the two countries.

"I said I regretted if this comment was seen as anything other than that."

A time-frame for the executions was not discussed during the phone call, in which she told the Vice-President that Australia was grateful for the delay in the transfer of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to Nusakambangan Island, where their executions are slated to take place.


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