March 18, 2015 / 10:09 AM / 3 years ago

Indonesia unlikely to execute drug convicts for weeks or months: VP Kalla

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia is not likely to execute a group of death row convicts, mostly foreigners, for weeks or even months, until its courts decide on their last-minute legal appeals, Vice President Jusuf Kalla told Reuters on Wednesday.

Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla gestures during an interview at the vice presidential palace in Jakarta, March 18, 2015. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Indonesia has harsh penalties for drug trafficking and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap. Five foreigners were among six people executed last month, the first executions since President Joko Widodo took office in October.

Tensions have flared between Indonesia and countries like Australia and Brazil, whose citizens are among a group of 10 drug offenders due to face the firing squad.

Widodo has pledged no mercy for drug offenders, saying Indonesia faces a “drug emergency”. The country is a major destination for drugs trafficked in the region.

Kalla said Indonesia was more cautious in handling the legal appeals following diplomatic efforts to save the prisoners.

“We will always hear and consider opinions not only from Australia but also France and Brazil,” Kalla said in an interview. “That is why we are very careful in ... following the process of the law.”

He said, “We’re waiting for the decision of the courts,” adding that it could take “weeks or maybe months”.

Four death row inmates have appealed against their sentences after Widodo rejected their clemency pleas late last year.

Australia has made repeated calls for mercy on behalf of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, but Widodo has refused to budge, turning down an offer of a one-off prisoner exchange and to have the Australian government bear the cost of the convicts serving life sentences.

Kalla said relations with Brazil had been harmed and Indonesia was now reviewing all its military contracts with Latin America’s largest economy.

“We’re not reviewing contracts with other countries because Australia and the Netherlands, they did not harm our diplomatic situation, like Brazil,” he said, referring to Brazil’s refusal to let Indonesia’s envoy take part in a credentials ceremony.

Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors in January after Indonesia executed their citizens among a group of six for drug offences.

A second Brazilian national is among a second group of 11 prisoners due to be executed soon in Indonesia. Rodrigo Gularte’s family has pleaded for clemency on the grounds of mental illness.

Others facing imminent execution on the prison island of Nusakambangan include citizens of France, the Philippines, Ghana, Nigeria and Indonesia.

Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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