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February 20 2015


Australia ratchets up pressure on Indonesia over executions

versione stampabile

Australia not to execute two Australian drug offenders on death
row, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday, ratcheting up
a diplomatic war of words that is threatening to sour relations
between the neighbours.
Australia has been pursuing an eleventh-hour campaign to
save the lives of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, two
members of the so-called Bali Nine, convicted in 2005 as the
ringleaders of a plot to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.
Indonesia has harsh penalties for drug trafficking and
resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap.
Abbott urged Indonesia to remember the devastating 2004
Indian Ocean tsunami, saying Australia would feel "grievously
let down" if the executions proceeded despite the roughly A$1
billion in assistance it rendered after the disaster that killed
hundreds of thousands of people in Indonesia's Aceh
Indonesian Foreign ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir told
reporters in Jakarta he hoped Abbott's statement did not
"reflect the true colours of Australians".
"Threats are not part of diplomatic language and no one
responds well to threats," the Indonesian spokesman said.
Indonesia on Tuesday postponed the transfer of the two
Australians and three other death-row inmates to another prison
for execution, because of what authorities said were medical
concerns and families' requests for more time with the
Abbott and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have appealed
to Indonesia not to execute prisoners for drug crimes. Also
facing the death penalty in Indonesia for drugs are citizens of
Brazil, France, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria and the Philippines.
The two Australians were accused of being leaders of the
Bali Nine, a group of nine Australians arrested on the resort
island in 2005 and convicted of attempting to smuggle 18 lb (8
kg) of heroin to Australia.
Other members of the group have been sentenced to long
prison terms.
Indonesia has defended its use of capital punishment, saying
it is not targeted at any one country, but rather at what it
considers an "extraordinary crime".
Australia and Indonesia have a long history of diplomatic
tension, which has periodically complicated cooperation on
issues such as people-smuggling.
Indonesia recalled its envoy and froze military and
intelligence cooperation in 2013 after reports that Canberra had
spied on top Indonesian officials, including former President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's wife.
Full diplomatic cooperation was restored last May, but
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop last month refused to rule out
withdrawing Australia's ambassador from Jakarta if the
executions went ahead. 

Charlotte Greenfield and Matt Siegel