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Indonesia Rejects Australian Proposal to Save Condemned Prisoners

  • VOA News

An Indonesian police stands guard in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia as a ferry, center background, with Indonesian police armored vehicles carrying two Australian prisoners arrives at Nusakambangan island, Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

An Indonesian police stands guard in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia as a ferry, center background, with Indonesian police armored vehicles carrying two Australian prisoners arrives at Nusakambangan island, Wednesday, March 4, 2015.

Indonesian officials have rejected Australia's proposal for a prisoner swap to spare the lives of two Australian drug smugglers who are set to be executed.

The officials said Thursday the executions would go ahead as planned, ruling out the proposal that Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had discussed with reporters hours earlier.

Bishop said she had appealed to Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi by phone in the latest Australian effort to seek clemency.

"What we are seeking to do is have an opportunity to talk about options that might be available in the area of prisoner transfer or prisoner swap. Absolutely no details but we are seeking an opportunity to explore every option that might be available to us, every avenue that might be available to save the lives of these two men," she said.

Indonesia has not yet set the date for the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were transferred Wednesday from a Bali prison to an island where they are expected to face a firing squad.

Nine other prisoners are facing execution, including citizens of Brazil, France, Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday that Australia respects Indonesia, but that his government stands up for its values and citizens. On Wednesday, Abbott said he was "revolted" by the prospect of the executions.

Chan and Sukumaran were dubbed leaders of the "Bali Nine" group of nine Australians arrested at the Bali airport in 2005. They were convicted of trying to carry more than eight kilos of heroin back to Australia.

Indonesia has some of the toughest drug laws in the world. New Indonesian President Joko Widodo has campaigned on a zero-tolerance policy to dealers.

Earlier this month, the president, who is widely known as Jokowi, said the issue is a matter of honor for the nation.

“There must be no intervention on the execution of convicted drug dealers,” he said. “It is an issue of our rule of law, of our political sovereignty and positively in our law, death sentence is included."

Since 2013, Indonesia has carried out at least 10 executions of convicted drug traffickers. Five foreign nationals were executed by firing squad in January.

Despite denying clemency requests from Australia, Brazil, France and the Netherlands, President Jokowi said he wants better international relations.

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