herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Eight foreigners executed by firing squad for drug crimes

indonesia

Workers load coffins from a church storage area ready to be taken to a police station in Cilacap, near the prison island of Nusakambangan, Central Java, Indonesia April 26, 2015 in this photo taken by Antara Foto
Workers load coffins from a church storage area ready to be taken to a police station in Cilacap, near the prison island of Nusakambangan, Central Java, Indonesia April 26, 2015 in this photo taken by Antara Foto
Australian Andrew Chan

Eight drug-trafficking convicts from several countries were executed by an Indonesian firing squad shortly after midnight local time yesterday, but a Filipina who was on death row with them was unexpectedly spared at the last minute.

Earlier, Jakarta rejected last-ditch pleas from around the world for clemency for the traffickers from Nigeria, Australia, Brazil and Indonesia, ordering their mass execution to proceed within hours.

A spokesman for the attorney general said the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, a mother-of-two who was arrested in 2010 after she arrived in Indonesia with 2.6kg of heroin hidden in her suitcase, had been delayed.

He said the delay came in response to a request from Manila after a drug courier gave herself up to police in the Philippines yesterday.

The proposed death penalties were condemned by the UN, and have strained ties between Australia and Indonesia.

Chan.jpg
Andrew Chan

Hours before the expected executions, crowds gathered in cities across Australia to hold vigils for Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, carrying placards and calling for Australia to respond strongly if the executions proceed.

Security was tight at the prison on an island off the Central Java coast where the executions were to take place, and a dozen ambulances, some carrying coffins, were seen arriving.

The prisoners were to be given the choice to stand, kneel or sit before the firing squad, and to be blindfolded.

marksmen

Twelve marksmen were assigned to fire at the heart of each prisoner, but only three would have live ammunition. Authorities say this is so that the executioner remains unidentified.

Authorities on Monday granted Australian Chan's final wish, which was to marry his Indonesian girlfriend at the prison.

But they rebuffed last- minute appeals from Australia to save the lives of Sukumaran and Chan, who were arrested in 2005 as the ringleaders of a plot to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.

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