Last bid to save Australian drug smugglers from Indonesian firing squad

Indonesian officials said they will reject an Australian offer to swap prisoners as part of a last-ditch attempt to save the lives of two Australian drug smugglers expected to face a firing squad within days.

Last bid to save Australian drug smugglers from Indonesian firing squad

Minister of justice and human rRights Yasonna Laoly said prisoner swaps might be possible for other crimes in the future, but not for people sentenced to death under Indonesia’s tough anti-drug laws.

“When it comes to this crime, we will say no,” he told reporters after meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop said earlier that she made the proposal to her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi, who had agreed to convey it to Widodo. Bishop said she had yet to hear back.

“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,” Bishop told reporters at a dawn vigil outside Parliament House.

Bishop has offered to repatriate three convicted Indonesian drug criminals in return for the lives of the Australians, Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, The Australian newspaper reported.

The proposal was made in a phone call after Indonesia announced the men were transferred from their prison home of a decade on the resort island of Bali to their place of execution on a maximum-security prison island, the newspaper said.

Bishop and Prime Minister Tony Abbott were among 40 lawmakers who gathered near the front doors of Parliament House for a candlelight vigil for the death row prisoners.

Abbott said he had requested another phone conversation with Widodo, a week after his last personal plea for the Australians’ lives.

“I can’t guarantee that the request will be met, but I’ve certainly put in a request because the government and the people of Indonesia need to know that this is important to us,” Abbott said.

The Australians are among nine foreign drug criminals who are to be executed soon despite clemency appeals from several of their governments. An Indonesian is also scheduled to be executed.

The preparations at Nusakambangan Island’s prison have been completed, attorney general Muhammad Prasetyo said. He refused to say when the executions would take place.

Besides the two Australians, a Nigerian national born in Spain was also transferred to the island prison off Indonesia’s main island of Java. Two other Nigerians, a Filipino woman and four men from Brazil, France, Ghana and Indonesia are scheduled to be executed.

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