Two Australians executed in Indonesia over 2005 drug smuggling case

Friday, May 1, 2015

At 12:35 am local time Wednesday morning, Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, leaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" heroin drug smugglers group, were executed on the Indonesian island of Nusa Kambangan.

The execution came nearly ten years after their 2006 conviction, in which time both men had become fully rehabilitated, said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Chan had become a Christian minister and Sukumaran turned to painting to help other prisoners at Kerobokan Prison to rehabilitate.

The two Australian men as well as the other six men executed were confirmed dead 27 minutes after they faced a firing squad, said Indonesian officials. They refused blindfolds when they stood before the firing squad, and sang "Amazing Grace", according to witnesses.

Australian officials condemned the executions, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying the relationship between the neighbouring countries has reached a "dark moment". The Prime Minister, as well as the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, agreed to withdraw the Australian ambassador to Indonesia "once all the courtesies have been extended to the Chan and Sukumaran families", who were staying in the Cilacap region. Mr Abbott said, "We respect Indonesia's sovereignty but we do deplore what's been done and this cannot be simply business as usual."

Australian authorities are coming under question, with lawyer Bob Myers saying "this is a black day for the AFP [Australian Federal Police], a day they deliberately exposed nine Australians to the death penalty". Myers was contacted by the father of Bali Nine member Scott Rush after the father suspected his son's involvement in the operation, which aimed to import 8.3 kilograms of heroin into Australia, with an estimated street value of about A$4 million. Myers said the AFP knew of the plans of every member of the Bali Nine, excluding Sukumaran, "and they didn't want to stop these people." He said the AFP had the opportunity to arrest the Australians before they left for Indonesia, meaning they would face a prison sentence in Australia, and avoid the death penalty. In not doing so, Myers said, they now have "blood on their hands".

Tributes have flowed in on social media using hashtag #IStandForMercy. Many Australians have also said they will boycott future plans to travel to the island nation, using hashtags #boycottindonesia and #boycottbali.