Two Australian drug smugglers on death row in Indonesia have been offered a glimmer of hope after news on Tuesday that they will not be transferred from Bali for their planned executions this week.
The transportation has been delayed on the request of the country’s Attorney-General, partly because the island prison they were to be sent to has run out of death row isolation cells.
Bali authorities were readying to move the Bali Nine heroin smugglers, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, on Wednesday morning to the island – known as Indonesia’s Alcatraz – where they will face the firing squad when news leaked that authorities had put their plans on hold.
A spokesman for Indonesia’s attorney-general confirmed on Tuesday night that the reason the transfer has been delayed is because Nusakambangan island, where they will be executed, is not yet ready.
Spokesman Tony Spontana also said the Australian government had requested more time for Chan and Sukumaran to spend with their families.
Meanwhile, a third reason for the delay was that a Brazilian prisoner, also due to be executed, was suffering a mental illness.
“I’m sure this week there won’t be any transfers,” Mr Spontana told reporters in Jakarta.
“A team from the attorney general’s department had inspected Nusakambangan and found issues that must be resolved before moving the prisoners.”
Problems had arisen because of the plan to execute more than five people there, he said.
“The space for the executions and the isolation cells will need some adjustments,” he said.
Mr Spontana said there were already five prisoners in the space reserved, and on seeing this the team realised no others would fit.
“I’m sure this week there will be no transfer because technically, to build new isolation cells or to change the existing capacity will take time,” he said.
“Then there’s also building an alternative location for the execution field or the place of execution which will also take time.
“ In relation to drug smuggler Rodrigo Gularte, the attorney general had ordered a second opinion on his medical condition, which may take time.”
Chan and Sukumaran have been on death row since 2006 and were recently denied presidential pardons, despite prison officials supporting their clemency bids.
All legal avenues ‘not yet been tested’
The pair’s lead lawyer, Todong Mulya Lubis, has been summoned to a court next week over the claim that president Joko Widodo has not followed the rules in rejecting the pair’s plea for clemency.
He said the court hearing showed that all legal avenues had not yet been tested, and was concerned that if the men were moved out of Bali later this week as expected, it would make it hard to reverse the process.
“They cannot transfer, they cannot move Chan and Sukumaran, let alone kill them, while the legal process is going on,” Mr Lubis said.
“It’s hard to reverse the process once they are moved to Nusa Kembangan.”
Resentment lingers over AFP
Meanwhile, the Australian Federal Police is continuing to face bitter recriminations about its involvement in the arrest of the Bali Nine, including the two Australians likely to be executed soon.
Ten years after the convicted drug smugglers were caught trying to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin out of Indonesia, a barrister and family friend of Scott Rush told the ABC’s 7.30 on Tuesday the AFP “will have blood on its hands” once Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are killed.
It was reported that the Indonesian police had been tipped off by their Australian counterparts, who sent them most of the names and flight details of the Bali Nine.
– with ABC and AAP