Indonesian court rejects death row Australians’ appeal

Rappler.com
Indonesian court rejects death row Australians’ appeal
(UPDATED) Lawyers say they will file an application to the Constitutional Court, but the Attorney General's Office says there will be no more delays to the executions

JAKARTA, Indonesia (2nd UPDATE) – An Indonesian court on Monday, April 6, rejected the appeals by two Australian drug smugglers facing imminent execution.

The State Administrative Court in Jakarta ruled against the appeals filed by Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” trafficking gang, whose lawyers had lodged a rare challenge to the president’s rejection of their plea for clemency.

The pair were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia and recently had pleas for clemency – typically a last chance to avoid the firing squad – rejected by Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who has taken a hard line against traffickers.

The men have mounted several legal bids to avoid the firing squad, and in the latest their lawyers challenged Jokowi’s decision to reject their mercy pleas, arguing that he failed to assess their rehabilitation or give reasons for his decision.

“The appeal by the challenger is rejected,” said presiding judge Ujang Abdullah. He upheld the original decision by the court in February to dismiss the challenge.

The court had decided that it did not have the authority to rule on Jokowi’s rejection of clemency appeals because this was the president’s prerogative.

Next steps

After the decision, a lawyer for the Australians, Leonard Aritonang, told reporters they respected the ruling but added: “This is not over yet.”

He said lawyers would file an application to the Constitutional Court to review the laws relating to presidential clemency.

“We are still hopeful… they are part of a successful rehabilitation program,” he said, referring to the claim from the men’s supporters that they have been successfully rehabilitated during years in prison.

“It’s a shame that they have to die in the end. What encourages us to keep going through all the options is that, although they have been convicted, in this country every person has the right to life and to defend his life.” 

Todung Mulya Lubis, another prominent lawyer representing the pair, said they anticipated the ruling. 

We have anticipated that the court would be very legalistic. The court failed to understand the miscarriage of justice,” he tweeted. 

“The struggle to find justice continues.

“We lost in our fight in the court. We have not lost our fight in finding justice.”

‘No more delays’

However, authorities have repeatedly insisted that a death row convict’s final chance to avoid the firing squad is through presidential clemency and that further appeals are futile.

Asked about the planned challenge to the Constitutional Court, Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo said there would be no more delays to the executions.

“The legal process is already done,” he said.

“This proves that they are simply trying to buy time. We can say they are playing with justice.”

They pair is expected to be executed soon with other drug convicts, including foreigners from France, Brazil, the Philippines, Nigeria and Ghana.

Jakarta has said that it will wait for legal appeals to be resolved before putting the group to death at the same time. Some other convicts have lodged Supreme Court appeals, which could take weeks to resolve.

International outcry 

Jakarta originally planned to carry out the executions in February, but following an international outcry agreed to let legal appeals run their course.

A Filipina among the group recently lost an appeal to the Supreme Court, while a Frenchman and Ghanaian last week lodged appeals with the court. (READ: Family of Filipina on death row: We will not lose hope)

Australia, Indonesia’s neighbor and traditionally a key ally, has mounted a sustained diplomatic campaign in an effort to stop its citizens being put to death, while France and Brazil have also stepped up diplomatic pressure on Jakarta.

But Jokowi, who has taken a hard line against drugs offenders, has not been swayed. He has vowed there will no mercy for traffickers, saying Indonesia is facing an “emergency” due to rising narcotics use.

Jakarta put to death 6 drugs offenders, including five foreigners in January, sparking a diplomatic storm as Brazil and the Netherlands – whose citizens were among those executed – recalled their ambassadors.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in February refused to accept the credentials of the new Indonesian ambassador. A second Brazilian, Rodrigo Gularte – whose family say he is mentally ill – is scheduled to be put to death in the next batch of drugs offenders.

Indonesia resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year hiatus. It did not put anyone to death in 2014.

The other 7 members of the “Bali Nine” are serving long jail sentences in Indonesia. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

 

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