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Family pleas fall on deaf ears

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Indonesia is not wavering from its plans to execute two Australian drug smugglers, despite passionate pleas from their families who may have seen the condemned pair for the last time.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are spending their final days in Kerobokan jail after permission was granted to move them to their execution place, the Central Java prison island of Nusakambangan.

Family and friends made the most of visiting hours on Friday, with Sukumaran’s mother Raji pausing on her way in, to make another desperate plea for help.

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“I don’t want my son murdered. Please, help,” she told reporters.

“I don’t know why they don’t want to help my son when they are helping their people overseas.”

Indonesia this week announced it was stepping up efforts to save its own citizens on death row in countries including Saudi Arabia, China and Malaysia, mostly for drug trafficking and murder.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir would only repeat his government’s line that the death sentence was applied for serious crimes.

“It’s not intended for certain nationals, not for citizens of certain countries, what we’re doing, the death penalty, is applied to very gross crimes,” he said.

Jakarta repeatedly denies its position on the death penalty at home and abroad conflicts, but it hasn’t yet dealt with the six Malaysians and four Chinese it has sentenced to death.

Kerobokan jail boss Sudjonggo says he has not received instructions for the pair’s transfer, but he’s ready at any time, with speculation they may be moved to Nusakambangan over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian public feels so strongly about the issue, they may consider boycotting Bali.

“I think the Australian people will demonstrate their deep disapproval of this action, including by making decisions about where they wish to holiday,” she told Fairfax radio.

In parliament on Thursday she gave a passionate appeal for mercy, and detailed the scores of Australian diplomatic approaches to Indonesia.

“Executing these two young men will not solve the drug scourge in Indonesia,” she said.

“It’s a very tense situation.”

Mr Nasir said he hadn’t heard her statement and didn’t believe she would call for a boycott.

“I doubt a foreign minister from a friendly country would call for their tourists not to come here,” he said.

“If she urged for tourists who intend to sell drugs here, not to come here, I support that.

“Maybe that’s what Foreign Minister Bishop said.”

Likewise, he didn’t think Australia would withdraw its ambassador.

“On many occasions, the prime minister has said openly that they understand the sovereignty of Indonesian law and understand this is a legal problem and that the relationship between Australia is important.

“We hold them to that.”

Friends who visited Chan on Friday said he retained his cheerful spirit, with one saying his deeply religious friend believed in miracles, and was still praying for one.

But artist Ben Quilty says his friend Sukumaran seemed “broken” when they said goodbye on Thursday.

“I think hope has gone from them now and they’re just trying to work out how to cope with what’s coming,” he said on Fairfax Radio.

Sukumaran told Quilty a lock had been removed from the inside of his door.

“I assume so they can come and take him when they’re ready to take him,” Quilty said.

After visiting the men for several hours on Friday, barrister Julian McMahon said he had no knowledge of plans to transfer them.

But he praised Indonesia for doing more to rescue its own citizens from death row in other countries.

Nearly 200 lives had already been saved in three years, he said.

“It does not ask what kind of crime they’ve committed, whether it’s a drug crime or a murder … the government goes and rescues them,” Mr McMahon said.

“We are trying to help our clients just as the government of Indonesia so successfully rescues it own.”


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