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Indonesia Court Rejects Appeal by Australians on Death Row

FILE - This combination of two file photos from Jan. 24, 2006, left, and Jan. 26, 2006 shows Australian drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran, left, and Andrew Chan during their trial in Bali, Indonesia.

An Indonesian court has rejected a desperate appeal for clemency by two Australian drug traffickers on death row, in a case that has soured relations between Indonesia and Australia.

President Joko Widodo has refused to grant clemency for the two prisoners. The Jakarta court on Tuesday ruled he was within his right to do so and that it could not overturn that decision.

Australia's government has put increasing diplomatic pressure on Indonesia to spare the two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, who are set to be executed by a firing squad.

President Widodo on Tuesday insists his government will go ahead with the execution of the two Australians and nine others on death row, and warned foreign governments against trying to delay the matter.

"Do not intervene in executions. This is Indonesia's judicial and political sovereignty," said Widodo. The president said he has taken calls from the leaders of France and Brazil, who also have citizens on death row.

The two Australians originally were scheduled to be killed in February, but have delayed the move for up to a month because of what they say are logistical reasons.

The prisoners headed a group of nine Australians, known as the Bali Nine, arrested 10 years ago after attempting to smuggle more than eight kilograms of heroin to Australia from Indonesia.

Lawyers for the two Australians said they plan to appeal the Tuesday court decision.

“According to the judge, the president's rejection of [the] clemency petition is not an administrative act so this court does not have the jurisdiction to accept our case,” said Todung Mulya Lubis, a lawyer for the two men. “We plan to appeal today's court decision. We have two weeks to file an appeal. If the law is respected, the execution should be postponed until the legal process is over.”

The case threatens to worsen relations between Australia and Indonesia, which were already damaged after it was revealed in late 2013 that Australia had been spying on top Indonesian leaders. Australia has said it would consider recalling its ambassador to Indonesia in protest if the executions take place.

Brazil and the Netherlands have already pulled their ambassadors after Indonesia executed two of their citizens on drug offenses last month.

Brazil took the further step of refusing to allow Indonesia's new ambassador to take part in a credentials ceremony, prompting the Southeast Asian country to recall him back to Jakarta in protest.

Indonesia was also re-evaluating the purchase of fighter jets and rocket launchers from Brazil due to the diplomatic row, the Jakarta Post reported earlier on Tuesday, quoting Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

Some material for this report came from Reuters.