February 24, 2015 / 9:54 PM / 3 years ago

Australia pleads for mercy for drug traffickers to be executed in Indonesia

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s foreign minister on Wednesday appealed to Indonesia’s president to show mercy for two Australian drug traffickers due to executed in Indonesia, expressing disappointment that their latest legal appeal had been rejected.

Raji Sukumaran (L), the mother of Australian death row prisoner Myuran Sukumaran, is accompanied by her son Chintu (R) as they walk outside Kerobokan Prison in Denpasar on the Indonesian island of Bali February 24, 2015 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. REUTERS/Antara Foto/Nyoman Budhiana

Relations between Indonesia and Australia have sunk to a new low as Indonesia prepares to execute 11 convicts on death row, most on drugs charges, including the two Australians.

President Joko Widodo has denied clemency to the convicts despite repeated pleas from Australia, Brazil and France, who all have citizens due to be executed by firing squad.

Widodo has accused these nations of interfering in Indonesia’s sovereign affairs.

“We respect Indonesia’s sovereignty, we respect their legal system,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Sky News.

“What we are asking is that President Widodo show mercy to these two young Australians,” she said. “He is a generous and forgiving man.”

Indonesia has harsh penalties for drug trafficking and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap.

Widodo said on Tuesday the executions of the 11 would not be delayed. Authorities have not yet announced a date.

Shortly before the president spoke, a court in Jakarta threw out an appeal by the two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, against Widodo’s rejection of their request for presidential clemency.

Lawyers for the members of the so-called Bali Nine group of Australians, convicted in 2005 as the ringleaders of a plot to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia, have said they plan to appeal Tuesday’s decision. They have two weeks to file an appeal.

The Australian government has stressed that Sukumaran and Chan have been rehabilitated in prison, where they mentor younger inmates.

“They are making a contribution to the Indonesian prison system and in fact the story of their rehabilitation is something of which Indonesia can be proud,” Bishop said.

“We believe their lives should be spared and they should be given a second chance.”

Bishop has previously said Australia would consider recalling its ambassador to Indonesia in protest if the executions are carried out.

Brazil and the Netherlands have already withdrawn their ambassadors after Indonesia executed their citizens on drug offences last month.

Editing by Andrew Roche

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