JAKARTA: An Indonesian court on Tuesday dismissed a bid by two Australian drug traffickers on death row to avoid execution by challenging the president’s rejection of their pleas for clemency.
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug smuggling gang, were arrested for trying to traffic heroin out of Indonesia in 2005 and sentenced to death the following year.
Their appeals for presidential clemency, typically a death row convict’s final chance of avoiding the firing squad, were rejected by new Indonesian President Joko Widodo in recent months.
On Tuesday, the Administrative Court in Jakarta dismissed the men’s application to challenge Widodo’s refusal to grant them clemency, a rare move that was seen as having little chance of success.
Rejecting Sukumaran’s application, presiding Judge Hendro Puspito said: “Clemency is the prerogative of the president... the state administrative court has no right to rule on the challenge.”
He also rejected Chan’s application. The judge said that the pair had 14 days to lodge an appeal, and their lawyers said they would.
The pair’s legal team had earlier applied for a second judicial review of their cases, but judges also rejected that application.
Later, Widodo, who has been a vocal supporter of the death penalty for drug traffickers, insisted that Jakarta would push ahead with the executions of the Australians and other foreigners on death row.
He said that the Brazilian and French presidents, whose citizens on death row have also lost appeals for presidential clemency, had recently made calls to him.
But he said his message to other countries was: “Do not intervene in executions. This is Indonesia’s judicial and political sovereignty.”
Authorities originally said the Australians would be put to death in February but last week announced that their executions would be delayed by up to a month.
They blamed “technical reasons”, insisting that sustained diplomatic pressure from Canberra had nothing to do with the decision.
The men’s lawyers have launched a series of last-ditch legal moves in a bid to save the pair, in their early 30s, from the firing squad, despite Jakarta’s insistence nothing more can be done for them.
Their legal team have argued that they have been rehabilitated in prison and Widodo had failed to consider the cases properly.
It is not clear when the pair will be put to death, although the head of the prosecutor’s office in Bali, where they are in prison, previously said it is “very likely” that they will be transferred this week to an island off Java where the executions will take place.
Authorities have to inform death row convicts 72 hours before they are executed.
The looming executions have dramatically heightened tensions between Australia and Indonesia, fraying ties that were only just recovering from a spying row.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made repeated pleas for the men to be spared and even urged Indonesia to remember Canberra’s significant help in dealing with the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
However, the remarks sparked anger in Indonesia, with several groups organising collections of coins to return the aid to Australia, and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla saying the money would be given back if Canberra did not consider it “humanitarian”.