Australian traffickers have death row plea rejected

Julie Bishop asked the president to review the clemency plea. Picture: Getty

Julie Bishop asked the president to review the clemency plea. Picture: Getty

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An INDONESIAN court has rejected appeals by two Australian drug traffickers trying to avoid their executions.

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, who were the leaders of the “Bali Nine” group of heroin smugglers arrested in 2005, were challenging president Joko Widodo’s decision to refuse them clemency.

Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan, left, and Myuran Sukumaran look on from a holding cell. Picture: AFP/Getty

Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan, left, and Myuran Sukumaran look on from a holding cell. Picture: AFP/Getty

The Jakarta High Administrative Court agreed with a lower court that the case is out of their jurisdiction because clemency 
is the prerogative of the president.

Sukumaran and Chan are among ten drug smugglers whose planned executions last month were adjourned due to last-minute appeals from six inmates. The other foreigners among the ten include three Nigerians, a Filipina woman and men from Brazil, France and Ghana.

Serge Areski Atlaoui from France and Martin Anderson of Ghana are still waiting for the outcome of their request for judicial reviews by the Supreme Court.

Last month, the country’s highest court rejected judicial reviews by Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso.

We will file constitutional review in the next two weeks

Leonard Arpan Aritonang

The planned executions have soured relations between Indonesia and other countries, especially Australia and Brazil.

Mr Widodo has vowed not to grant mercy to drug offenders because he says Indonesia is suffering a “drug emergency”.

Jakarta executed six drug convicts including five foreigners in January, brushing aside last-minute appeals from Brazil and the Netherlands.

The complaints by Sukumaran and Chan were tried separately with the same three-judge panel at the Jakarta High Administrative Court, which agreed with a lower court that the case is out of their jurisdiction since clemency is the prerogative of the president.

“The object of the dispute is not part of the jurisdiction of the administrative court,” said presiding judge Ujang Abdullah.

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop said in a statement that the government was disappointed the petitions by Sukumaran, 33, and Chan, 31, failed and that Australia “respectfully requests the president to review their pleas for clemency”.

Experts say once a death row convict’s clemency has been rejected by the president, it is next to impossible to reverse that decision. Leonard Arpan Aritonang, a lawyer for the two Australians, expressed disappointment but added that the ruling did not stop them from seeking another legal option.

“We will file constitutional review in the next two weeks to ask the Constitutional Court to redefine and to emphasise what is the president’s obligation in relation with the clemency,” Mr Aritonang said.

The Australians’ legal team has complained that the presidential decrees rejecting the clemency did not provide reasons why they were rejected.

More than 130 people are on Indonesia’s death row, including 57 people convicted of drug offences.

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