World Bulletin / News Desk
Australia has offered to pay the costs of life imprisonment for two of its nationals facing execution in Indonesia, local media reported Thursday.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop wrote to her opposite number in Indonesia last week offering to pay for the confinement of heroin traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the Western Australian newspaper said.
The pair are due to face execution by firing squad in the near future if their legal appeals fail.
The letter to Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, obtained by the newspaper, was written last week and also contained an offer to exchange three Indonesian drug smugglers held in Australia for Chan and Sukumaran.
In the letter, which followed a telephone conversation between the two ministers on the subject, Bishop said: "As discussed, the Australian Government would be prepared to cover the costs of the ongoing life imprisonment of Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran should a transfer not be possible."
The March 5 note also contains claims that the judges in the duo’s trial were corrupt, listing this as one of the reasons they should be spared. Last month, one of their lawyers claimed the six judges in their trial offered lighter sentences in exchange for money.
"There are compelling grounds for a permanent stay of execution, given the irreversibility of capital punishment," Bishop wrote.
She added: "A judicial commission has invited Mr Chan, Mr Sukumaran and their original lawyer to make statements in a matter relating to alleged corruption of the trial judges.
"These are serious allegations and I request that your Government accord due legal process and institute a pause in the execution preparations."
In a succinct response, Marsudi ruled out a prisoner exchange but did not comment directly on the suggestion of Australia funding life imprisonment.
"I have also conveyed your concerns to President Joko Widodo,” Marsudi wrote. "The President is of the position that such an exchange cannot be undertaken."
Last week, several Indonesia politicians also spoke to deny the possibility of a prisoner exchange under Indonesian law.
Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 33, were convicted in 2005 as part of the Bali Nine smuggling gang. They were transferred to Nusa Kambangan island, where they are due to be executed alongside eight other drug convicts, last week.
On Thursday, their appeal against Widodo’s clemency rejection was postponed to March 19. An appeal by Frenchman Serge Areski Atlaoui was adjourned to March 25 on Wednesday.
Philippine national Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso has appealed to the Supreme Court, which could make a decision this week, Indonesian media reported.
Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte's family has pleaded for clemency on the grounds of mental illness.
The Attorney General’s Office reiterated Thursday that all 10 prisoners, including nine foreigners, would be killed together, once “everything is clear” – a possible reference to the ongoing legal cases.
Indonesia must give the prisoners 72-hour notice before their executions.Last Mod: 12 Mart 2015, 13:02