CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s foreign minister on Tuesday defended Prime Minister Tony Abbott against online criticism that he had not done enough to save the lives of two Australians on death row in Indonesia.
The Australians, Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, are among nine drug traffickers who were given 72-hour notices over the weekend that they will be executed by a firing squad.
Australian actors, including Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, Joel Edgerton and Bryan Brown, have launched an online video calling for Indonesia to show mercy to the two Australians.
“Tony, if you have any courage and compassion, you’d get over to Indonesia and bring these two boys home,” actor Brendan Cowell said to the prime minister.
But Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian government was acting on advice from Australian diplomats in Jakarta who were part of a sustained campaign seeking a stay of execution.
“Clearly if travelling to Indonesia would make a difference, we would have gone there,” Bishop told Nine Network television.
Abbott had spoken to Indonesian President Joko Widodo several times on the issue, most recently in Singapore in late March at the funeral of the city-state’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Bishop said.
Bishop said her Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, had written to her on Monday night and gave no indication that the executions would not go ahead as early as Wednesday morning.
“While they are still alive, there is still hope and I will continue to advocate all throughout today,” Bishop said.
“We will continue because both men have been rehabilitated,” she added. “Nothing will be achieved and much will be lost if these executions go ahead.”
The Sukumaran and Chan families made what could be their last visit to Besi prison on Nusakambangan island where the prisoners are to face firing squads.
Among the visitors was Febyanti Herewila, an Indonesian Christian pastor who became Chan’s wife in a marriage ceremony on the island on Monday.
Bishop argues that the Australians should not be killed while two legal cases were outstanding.
Authorities at the weekend asked the two Australians, four Nigerian men, a Filipino woman, and one man each from Brazil and Indonesia for their last wish and gave them a 72-hour notice of their executions.
Indonesian Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo said Monday that another convict, Frenchman Serge Atlaoui, would not be executed with the others because he still has an outstanding legal complaint over the rejection of his clemency appeal.
Prasetyo said Atlaoui would later face a firing squad alone if his complaint is turned down by the Administrative Court. Similar appeals by Sukumaran and Chan were rejected by the Administrative Court and the High Administrative Court, with both ruling that clemency is the prerogative of the president.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III appealed to Widodo on Monday to spare Filipino drug convict Mary Jane Veloso’s life in a meeting on the sidelines of an annual summit of Southeast Asian leaders in Malaysia. Widodo “was sympathetic” and promised to respond to Aquino’s appeal later Monday after consulting with Indonesia’s attorney general, Aquino spokesman Herminio Coloma told reporters.
Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao also appealed to Widodo to spare Veloso’s life.
“I am begging and knocking at your kind heart that your excellency will grant executive clemency to her by sparing her life and saving her from execution,” Pacquiao said in a live interview from Los Angeles with Philippine network GMA News.
However, on Monday the Sleman District Court in Central Java rejected a second appeal for judicial review by Veloso, while the Indonesian Supreme Court in Jakarta turned down a final appeal by Indonesian Zainal Abidin.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Widodo on Sunday to “urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia, with a view toward abolition.”
Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.
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