News World Tensions rise over Bali Nine executions

Tensions rise over Bali Nine executions

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As ambulances carrying the bodies of executed drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran arrived in Jakarta – to be transported to their families in Australia – unrest has erupted across the globe.

The executions of the pair alongside six other convicts sparked an “unprecedented” diplomatic response, with Australia announcing on Wednesday morning it will withdraw its ambassador from Indonesia in protest.

But Indonesian Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo has defended the executions.

Bali Nine diplomatic fallout begins 
• Indonesia executes Bali Nine pair Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran
• Cruel, abhorrent’: anger, dismay at executions

“This is a warning for others, don’t even try to commit these drug crimes, to think a thousand times, that Indonesia will be strict, will be harsh on drug crimes,” he told reporters in Cilacap.

Prasetyo said each of the eight had been executed simultaneously by a 13-member firing squad. Medical teams confirmed their deaths three minutes later, he said.

“The result of the second execution was better, more orderly and more perfect than the last,” he said, referring to executions carried out in January and noting the bodies were treated more “humanely” this time.

Indonesia's Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo.
Indonesia’s Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo. Photo: Getty

He wasn’t worried how other nations would react.

“This is a momentary ripple,” he said. “It’s the diplomatic domain. There will be solution.”

After a decade in prison and months of futile diplomatic efforts to save them, the Bali Nine ringleaders were executed at 12.35am on Wednesday local time on Nusakambangan prison island.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed the move to withdraw ambassador Paul Grigson, saying Australia deeply regretted the “cruel” and “unnecessary” executions and acknowledging it was a “dark moment” in the relationship between Australia and Indonesia.

Mr Prasetyo said although the death penalty was not “pleasant” it is vital in the war against drugs.

“We are fighting a war against horrible drug crimes that threaten our nation’s survival,” Mr Prasetyo told reporters in Cilacap, across from the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan where the executions took place.

“I would like to say that an execution is not a pleasant thing. It is not a fun job. But we must do it in order to save the nation from the danger of drugs.

“We are not making enemies of countries from where those executed came. What we are fighting against is drug-related crimes.”

Mr Prasetyo confirmed the bodies of Chan and Sukumaran would be returned to Australia.

President Joko Widodo, who is a vocal supporter of the death penalty for drug traffickers, has previously also defended the executions.

Former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono posted a tweet on Twitter on Wednesday, which was translated by Sky News.

“I may not always agree with the way international relations is handled, but we have sovereignty,” Mr Yudhoyono wrote.

Indonesia observed a four-year moratorium on the death penally until mid-2013, when it began executing people by firing squad again.

Independent MPs push for change

Independent MP Clive Palmer wants it to be illegal for authorities and intelligence agencies to pass on information to foreign countries that could result in the execution of Australians overseas.

Mr Xenophon described President Widodo a "pathetically weak leader".
Nick Xenophon described President Widodo a “pathetically weak leader”. Photo: AAP

The outspoken MP has announced he’ll introduce a private member’s bill to parliament within the next month after the deaths of Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran by firing squad in Indonesia.

The Foreign Death Penalty Offences (Preventing Information Disclosure) Bill 2015 will see public officials imprisoned for up to 15 years if they disclose information that could cause an Australian in a foreign country to be at risk of receiving the death penalty.

Mr Palmer said the bill could have prevented Australian Federal Police from contacting Indonesian police about the Bali Nine after Lee Rush, the father of drug courier Scott Rush, approached authorities to stop his son before he travelled overseas.

“All Australians, I think, agree that when a parent or another member of the community contacts their trusted agencies … that that outcome shouldn’t be one which will result in the death of the person they’re seeking to help,” Mr Palmer said.

Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan backed Mr Palmer’s call for a Bill relating to foreign death penalty offences.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, who travelled to Indonesia last month to add his voice to pleas for clemency, has described Mr Widodo as a “pathetically weak leader”.

He said serious questions remained about the level of co-operation between the AFP and Indonesian authorities in the arrest of the Bali Nine drug smugglers.

“I will be writing this morning to the joint standing committee on Foreign Affairs of the parliament to ask that this matter be looked at. It is legitimate to do so,” Mr Xenophon said.

“This is not about recriminations, it is about making sure that this never, ever happens again.”

– with AAP

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