News National Julie Bishop proposes Bali Nine prisoner swap

Julie Bishop proposes Bali Nine prisoner swap

Julie Bishop
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Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has made an eleventh-hour bid to save the Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran from the firing squad.

Ms Bishop had proposed to repatriate three convicted Indonesian drug criminals in return for the lives of the two men.

It is understood Indonesia did not accept the offer during a tense phone call on Tuesday between Ms Bishop and her Indonesian counterpart.

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Speaking at a vigil for the Bali Nine duo outside Canberra’s Parliament House this morning, Ms Bishop again asked Indonesia to show mercy to the two men.

“We ask the Indonesian government, indeed we appeal to the Indonesian president to grant a stay of clemency,” she said.

“First, there are still legal avenues open to the men and an appeal is being sought before the state administrative court.

“Secondly, there are allegations being considered by their judicial commission regarding bribery charges arising from the original trial.

Tony Abbott Bill Shorten
Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott at a candlelight vigil for the men on Thursday morning. Photo: AAP

“But most importantly the concepts of mercy and forgiveness have as big a place in Indonesian law as they do in Australian law.

“And we ask that their remorse be taken into account.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Chan and Sukumaran’s rehabilitation had made them valuable to Indonesia.

“These men have become crime fighters and they are assets to Indonesia. And when you have an asset you don’t destroy it,” Mr Abbott said.

Earlier, Indonesian president Joko Widodo said he had a constitutional responsibility to follow through with the executions.

“I as the President have to follow the constitution which still allows executions. And their verdicts have already been decided by the court,” Mr Widodo told Al Jazeera.

“When I rejected their clemency I also looked at their cases. How many drugs they were carrying, how much was distributed, how many kilos they distributed, how many hundreds and thousands of pills were distributed.”

However, he said the planned executions would not take place this week.

Mr Widodo’s comments seemed to tie in with the words of his attorney-general on the amount of preparation that still needs to be done.

Muhammad Prasetyo said Indonesia was working through technicalities such as ensuring the 13-member firing squads were ready and that inmates had their religious needs met.

Amidst great speculation about an execution date, he told journalists he was not keeping some kind of secret.

Mr Prasetyo has given the president a progress report and the final decision on the preparations and date is in his hands, making him one of the most watched ministers in Jakarta.

He has also been told to keep the concerns of other countries such as Australia in mind, according to Indonesia’s cabinet secretary.

Chan and Sukumaran were transferred yesterday from Bali’s Kerobokan prison to isolation cells in Nusakambangan island prison in Central Java to await news about the timing of their executions.

The Australian pair are among a group of 11 prisoners who have recently been approved for execution by the Indonesian government.

The list also includes prisoners from France, Ghana, Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Politicians urge mercy at candlelight vigil

Meanwhile, the nation’s political leaders joined Ms Bishop at the candlelight vigil in Canberra.

“We have an immediate objective to save lives, but we need to be determined to bring about a change of attitude in the world,” said Philip Ruddock, the Father of the Parliament.

“When you think about what has happened in this particular instance, young people who had sought to go on a path which is unacceptable and unlawful, have been rehabilitated.

“This has been a remarkable journey for them. It ought to be an example to the rest of the world about what can be achieved.

“Mine and my colleagues’ prayers remain with our two Australian friends.

“But whatever happens, our determination will in no way be dented. We want to see state-sanctioned killing brought to an end around the world and we are going to continue to campaign for that.”


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