News World ‘Decent’ people know our anger
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‘Decent’ people know our anger

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the Indonesian ambassador’s statement expressing sympathy for the families of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran shows “decent” people in Indonesia understand Australia’s anger at their executions.

A day after the two men were killed by firing squad, ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema released a statement acknowledging the strain their deaths had placed on relations between Indonesia and Australia.

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“Indonesia understands the views expressed by the people and government of Australia on the law enforcement measures taken against the two Bali Nine drug smuggling ringleaders,” Mr Kesoema said.

“The Indonesian people and government express our sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased.”

Mr Abbott said despite the anger over the executions, he was confident the relationship between Indonesia and Australia could be restored.

“It’s a sign that decent people in Indonesia appreciate the anger that Australians feel at these cruel and unnecessary deaths, and it’s a sign that the good and strong relationship with Indonesia can be resumed,” he said when asked about the statement.

“This is a difficult moment in the relationship between Australia and Indonesia, but I am confident that decent people in both countries will now pause, take stock and do whatever’s necessary to restore the relationship.”

The statement came as Chan’s family arrived back in Sydney after spending time with him at Nusakambangan before his execution.

The bodies of Chan and Sukumaran had been expected to be returned to Australia this morning, but when a large media contingent gathered in front of the funeral home the coffins failed to appear.

Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Steve Ciobo said the men’s bodies were expected be brought back to Australia over the weekend.

“The repatriation of the bodies I understand has been delayed for the moment, but I understand it will be happening in the next 24 to 48 hours,” Mr Ciobo said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she spoke to the “devastated” families overnight and felt deeply for them.

However, she said it was time for the Australian Government to start moving on from the events of the past week.

“I think it’s time for us to seek to move on. We will need to build relations at Government level, the people-to-people level,” Ms Bishop said.

“I think we need to look at the long-term future of the relationship.”

Ambassador’s statement ‘cold comfort’, Shorten says

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has described the ambassador’s statement as “cold comfort” and “too little too late”.

Ms Bishop would not confirm reports that General Prabawo Subianto, a political rival of Indonesian president Joko Widodo, offered to support a stay of execution for the two men.

“I am aware that a number of Indonesian politicians and former politicians were expressing very grave reservations about this matter to the president and to other members of the Indonesian government,” she said.

“This is an issue that has divided opinion in Indonesia and Australia, it’s very challenging issue.”

However, she rejected suggestions that Australian officials lobbied General Prabawo to intervene on Chan and Sukumaran’s behalf.

Australia is recalling its ambassador in Jakarta, Paul Grigson, and suspending contact between ministers, in protest over the executions.

I sincerely hope that our relations will be able to withstand the strain of recent events.

Former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Despite yesterday’s stoush between Labor and the Coalition over how the AFP has been instructed to handle cases involving Australians overseas and the death penalty, Federal Opposition frontbencher Anthony Albanese said it was critical there be bipartisan support for Australia’s response to the executions.

“I think the Parliament was at its best when we stood as one in opposition to the death penalty, that was parliament at its finest,” he told Channel Nine.

“What we’ve seen from the Indonesia Government unfortunately is not government at its finest — far from it.

“It is difficult to see how anything was achieved from the death of not just these two young men, but the six other people who were executed as well.”

Former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was scheduled to deliver a keynote address at a Perth conference today but pulled out ahead of the executions of Chan and Sukumaran.

In a statement, Dr Yudhoyono acknowledged it was a “difficult and sensitive time” between the two countries.

“I have invested so much diplomatic and political capital in strong bilateral relations between our two nations and I sincerely hope that our relations will be able to withstand the strain of recent events,” he said.

“Australian-Indonesian relationships have been a matter of special importance to me. I spent two whole presidential terms trying to mend and elevate Indonesia-Australia relations.”

Dr Yudhoyono placed a moratorium on the death penalty while he was the country’s leader until 2014.

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