April 25, 2015 / 12:17 PM / in 3 years

Indonesia informs death row convicts execution just days away

CILACAP, Indonesia (Reuters) - Indonesia has informed two Australians, one Nigerian and four other death-row drug convicts that they will be executed in a matter of days, possibly as soon as Tuesday.

Australian Andrew Chan (L) and Myuran Sukumaran wait in a temporary cell for their appeal hearing in Denpasar District Court in Indonesia's resort island of Bali September 21, 2010. REUTERS/Murdani Usman

The Attorney General’s office said notices that they would face a firing squad after 72 hours were delivered to the seven on the prison island of Nusakambangan, despite last-minute appeals for clemency from the Australian government and others.

“My client just received a notification letter that in 72 hours there will be an execution,” said Utomo Karim, the lawyer for the Nigerian convict, adding that six others were also told the countdown to their execution had started.

“There is no date specified for the execution, but families will have time to visit Nusakambangan until Tuesday 2 p.m., this could mean that it will be carried out on later on Tuesday, probably in the evening or after midnight.”

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two Australians arrested as ringleaders of the ‘Bali Nine’ drug-smuggling group, were among the seven, lawyers said.

In all there were originally 10 inmates, including nationals from Brazil, France, Ghana and the Philippines, who were due to be executed together.

The attorney general’s spokesman, Tony Spontana, said a date for the executions would not be announced until after a verdict had been reached on an appeal by the Indonesian convict, which is expected as early as Monday.

Indonesia has harsh punishments for drug crimes and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap. Six executions have been carried out so far this year.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Indonesia had notified her government the execution of the two Australian men would be “scheduled imminently”.

“Nothing can be gained and much will be lost if these two young Australians are executed,” she said in a statement, urging clemency and that legal challenges still outstanding should be heard.

A temporary reprieve was granted to the French citizen, Serge Atlaoui, who will not be in the next round of executions, a French embassy official said on Saturday. It was not clear why his execution was postponed.

“We remain extremely cautious. Everything can change from one day to the next,” said Richard Sedillot, Atlaoui’s lawyer.

“I am torn between an extreme sadness to learn that other (people) condemned could be executed and the relief to learn that the man I was defending for eight years could at this stage be spared.”

Marches in support of Atlaoui were due to take place in Paris and in Metz, eastern France, his home town.

France has told Indonesia the executions could damage relations, while Australia has pleaded repeatedly for clemency for Chan and Sukumaran.

“I again respectfully call on the president of Indonesia to reconsider his refusal to grant clemency. It is not too late for a change of heart,” Bishop said.

Outside the maximum-security prison, an Australian diplomat and a lawyer for the two men showed a self-portrait painted by Sukumaran to reporters. On the back was written: “The 72 hours just started.”

The members of the Bali Nine were arrested at the main airport on the holiday island of Bali for trying to smuggle 8 kg (18 lb) of heroin to Australia. The seven other members of the gang, all Australians, have been jailed in Indonesia.

Reporting by Randy Fabi and Fergus Jensen in JAKARTA, Dominique Vidalon and Marine Pennnetier in PARIS, and Christopher McCall in SYDNEY; Writing by John Chalmers

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