Indonesia Rejected Andrew Chan’s Final Appeal for Clemency

Chan's plea for clemency was rejected earlier this month. As an alleged ringleader of the Bali Nine drug smuggling ring he will now face imminent execution.

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23 January 2015, 12:44am

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It was announced last night that a final application for clemency from Sydney 31 year-old, Andrew Chan, was rejected by Indonesian president Joko Widodo. A letter presented to Denpasar District Court stated no reason was found to grant the pardon. Now it seems that Chan, along with fellow ringleader of the Bali Nine drug smuggling ring Myuran Sukumaran— whose plea for clemency was rejected earlier this month—face imminent execution, in line with Indonesia's tough stance on drug offenders.

The two, being held at Kerobokan prison, were convicted for their part in the scheme to smuggle more than eight kilograms of heroin out of Indonesia in April 2005, after Indonesian authorities were tipped off by the Australian Federal Police.

Before Chan's plea was rejected, there was a possibility that both men would earn a reprieve, as under Indonesian law prisoners who've committed a crime together must be executed together. Yet even as supporters clung to this hope, Sukumaran revealed earlier this week that he'd heard news he would be executed by the end of the month.

But Chan and Sukumaran will not learn of the actual date of their execution until 72 hours before it takes place, as this is the standard procedure for prisoners on death row in Indonesia.

According to Dr Vannessa Hearman, acting chair of the Department of Indonesian Studies at the University of Sydney, if the executions do take place a grim fate awaits the pair. She explained prisoners are taken to a secret location and placed before a firing squad of 12 members of the Mobile Brigade. Three of the officers have live bullets, while the rest have blanks in their rifles.

"The prisoner wears white with a mark on his or her chest where the marksmen aim for and the executioners by law are supposed to stand five to ten metres away," Hearman told VICE. "The commander of the executioner team will then check that the prisoner is indeed dead."

At this point, if the prisoner still shows signs of life the highest ranking officer will take a final shot to their head.

During the procedure prisoners are given the option of being accompanied by a priest or spiritual counsel. They can also choose to be blindfolded and can either kneel or stand.

Following the execution, each prisoner's body is prepared and then handed over to the family. The bullets are removed, the wounds are sewn and the body is washed.

"These procedures are set out in a 1964 law on the conduct of executions," Hearman added.

Early last Sunday morning, six death row inmates on drug charges, five of whom were foreigners, were executed in Indonesia. The prisoners were shot in pairs on Nusakambangan Island in Central Java. Despite international condemnation, Indonesian Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo has warned another series of executions will be held later in the year.

Widodo announced in December last year that all 64 death row inmates on drug-related charges would be executed. This hardline approach taken by the president— who ran for office with the promise of making human rights a priority—is in response to a perceived drug crisis sweeping the nation and public dismay about the situation.

Hearman notes data from the Indonesian National Narcotics Board outlines that of the 64 inmates facing the death penalty on drug-related charges there are 27 Indonesian citizens and 37 foreigners.

However, there'd been a virtual moratorium on the death penalty from 2008 until 2013, when a similar series of executions to last Sunday's were undertaken. And there is strong opposition to the death penalty in Indonesia amongst human rights groups and religious organisations. Hearman points out that the Catholic Church is opposing the president's call to execute the 64 prisoners.

Todung Mulya Lubis, lawyer for Chan and Sukumaran, plans to submit another request for a judicial review calling for lighter sentences. Hearman explained that the country's Constitutional Court allows for two judicial reviews, while the Indonesian Supreme Court allows for only one.

"Mulya Lubis intends to test this contradiction between the two courts and argue for another judicial review to maximize what he calls his clients' chance at justice," Hearman said. "While a judicial review process is underway, there is little likelihood executions will be carried out."

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