Sunday 25 September 2016

Indonesian appeals court to issue verdict on fate of Australian death row convicts on April 6

Kanupriya Kapoor

Published 01/04/2015 | 07:08

Family members of Australian death row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran head to Nusakambangan Island. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Family members of Australian death row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran head to Nusakambangan Island. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

An Indonesian court hearing the appeals of two Australian death row convicts will announce a verdict on April 6, one of the judges determining the case said earlier today.

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Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan are among a group of 10 prisoners, mostly foreigners, facing imminent execution for drug offences after President Joko Widodo rejected their pleas for clemency.

In this file combo photographs, seven foreign death row prisoners in Indonesia await execution by firing squad in Nusakambangan prison island. Top row from left, Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, Frenchman Serge Atlaoui and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte. Bottom row from left. Nigerian Raheem Agbaje Salami, Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, and Nigerian Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise. AFP PHOTO / JEWEL SAMAD / SONNY TUMBELAKA / BAY ISMOYO / METRO TV / SURYO WIBOWOJEWEL SAMAD,SONNY TUMBELAKA,STR,BAY ISMOYO,METRO TV,SURYO WIBOWO/AFP/Getty Images
In this file combo photographs, seven foreign death row prisoners in Indonesia await execution by firing squad in Nusakambangan prison island. Top row from left, Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, Frenchman Serge Atlaoui and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte. Bottom row from left. Nigerian Raheem Agbaje Salami, Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, and Nigerian Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise. AFP PHOTO / JEWEL SAMAD / SONNY TUMBELAKA / BAY ISMOYO / METRO TV / SURYO WIBOWOJEWEL SAMAD,SONNY TUMBELAKA,STR,BAY ISMOYO,METRO TV,SURYO WIBOWO/AFP/Getty Images

"Both sides have been given ample opportunity to present evidence and testimony," Ujang Abdullah, one of a panel of three judges, told the court. "The judges will decide on the case after studying the evidence submitted.

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The court was adjourned until Monday, when the judges would read their verdicts in both cases, he said.

The Australian government has repeatedly asked Indonesia to spare the lives of Sukumaran and Chan. Widodo has refused to budge, ramping up diplomatic tensions between the neighbours.

Lawyers for the two Australians have been trying to convince the court since February that it has the jurisdiction to hear their appeal against the president's rejection of a plea for clemency for the pair.

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Judges rejected that argument last month.

"We will respect the judges who are now considering everything before ruling on the case," Leonard Arfan, a lawyer representing the two Australians, told reporters. "We respect the ongoing process and we're just waiting for the decision."

Sukumaran and Chan were arrested in 2005 as the ringleaders in a plot by a group, which came to be known as the Bali Nine, to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.

Read more here: Indonesia 'rejects prisoners offer'  

At least four other death row inmates have appealed against their sentences.

Indonesia's attorney general has said all 10 prisoners would face the firing squad together but has yet to set a date for their executions.

The group awaiting execution includes citizens of Brazil, France, Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla told Reuters last month that it could take weeks or even months for the executions to take place.

Indonesia has harsh penalties for drug trafficking and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap.

With the upcoming executions, Indonesia will have exercised the death penalty more times in a single year than ever before.

Reuters

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