Indonesian court rejects death row Australian's appeal

06 Apr 2015 / 22:05 H.

    JAKARTA: An Indonesian court Monday dismissed an appeal by an Australian drug smuggler facing imminent execution against the president's rejection of his mercy plea, taking him a step closer to the firing squad.
    The State Administrative Court in Jakarta said that it does not have the authority to rule on the challenge to President Joko Widodo's decision to reject Andrew Chan's plea for clemency, upholding its own ruling handed down in February.
    "The appeal by the challenger is rejected," said presiding judge Ujang Abdullah.
    Judges then started handing a ruling on an identical challenge by a second Australian drug smuggler, Myuran Sukumaran.
    Chan and Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" drug trafficking gang, were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.
    Widodo recently rejected their pleas for presidential clemency, typically the final chance to avoid execution. They are 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.
    The men's legal team have mounted several attempts to halt the executions. In their latest, they called for the State Administrative Court to hear an appeal on Widodo's clemency rejection, saying that he failed to properly assess their rehabilitation or give reasons for his decision.
    The court refused to accept the application in February, and the Australians' lawyers appealed that decision.
    If the court goes on to reject Sukumaran's challenge, as expected, it is not clear whether the Australians' lawyers will pursue other legal avenues.

    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.
    Australia, Indonesia's neighbour 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 Widodo, 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 six 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 seven members of the "Bali Nine" are serving long jail sentences in Indonesia. – AFP

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