April 1, 2015 / 3:38 AM / 2 years ago

Indonesian court to decide on Bali Nine execution appeal on April 6

Australian death row prisoners Andrew Chan (C) and Myuran Sukumaran (L) are seen in a holding cell waiting to attend a review hearing in the District Court of Denpasar on the Indonesian island of Bali, in this October 8, 2010 picture taken by Antara Foto. REUTERS/Nyoman Budhiana/Antara Foto

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian court hearing the appeals of two Australian death row convicts will announce a verdict on April 6, one of the judges determining the case said on Wednesday.

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan are among a group of 10 prisoners, mostly foreigners, facing imminent execution for drug offenses after President Joko Widodo rejected their pleas for clemency.

”Both sides have been given ample opportunity to present evidence and testimony,“ Ujang Abdullah, one of a panel of three judges, told the court. ”The judges will decide on the case after studying the evidence submitted.

The court was adjourned until Monday, when the judges would read their verdicts in both cases, he said.

The Australian government has repeatedly asked Indonesia to spare the lives of Sukumaran and Chan. Widodo has refused to budge, ramping up diplomatic tensions between the neighbors.

Lawyers for the two Australians have been trying to convince the court since February that it has the jurisdiction to hear their appeal against the president’s rejection of a plea for clemency for the pair.

Judges rejected that argument last month.

“We will respect the judges who are now considering everything before ruling on the case,” Leonard Arfan, a lawyer representing the two Australians, told reporters. “We respect the ongoing process and we’re just waiting for the decision.”

Sukumaran and Chan were arrested in 2005 as the ringleaders in a plot by a group, which came to be known as the Bali Nine, to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.

At least four other death row inmates have appealed against their sentences.

Indonesia’s attorney general has said all 10 prisoners would face the firing squad together but has yet to set a date for their executions.

The group awaiting execution includes citizens of Brazil, France, Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla told Reuters last month that it could take weeks or even months for the executions to take place.

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

With the upcoming executions, Indonesia will have exercised the death penalty more times in a single year than ever before.

Writing by Michael Taylor; Editing by Michael Perry

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