Australian PM says "revolted" by looming Indonesian executions

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday said he was "revolted" by the looming execution of two convicted Australian drug traffickers as preparations were under way to move the men to an island where they will be shot.

Reuters| Updated: Mar 04, 2015, 09:34 AM IST

Sydney: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday said he was "revolted" by the looming execution of two convicted Australian drug traffickers as preparations were under way to move the men to an island where they will be shot.

The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair. 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has adopted a tough stance on carrying out harsh penalties for drug traffickers. Executions were resumed in 2013 after a five-year gap and nationals from Brazil, Malawi, the Netherlands, Nigeria and Vietnam have been among those put in front of a firing squad. 

Widodo has denied clemency to 11 convicts currently on death row, including the Australian nationals, and warned other countries to stay out of Indonesia`s sovereign affairs. 

"At every moment, I`m making Australia`s position clear. We, frankly, are revolted by the prospect of these executions," Abbott told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.

"I think there are millions of Australians who feel sick to their stomachs about what`s happened to these two men who committed a terrible crime, a terrible crime," Abbott said. "But the position of Australia is that we abhor drug crime but we abhor the death penalty as well, which we think is beneath a country like Indonesia."

Indonesia`s chief prosecutor has said Chan and Sukumaran will be moved from Bali on Wednesday to the island of Nusakambangan, where executions are carried out, according to media reports. 

Australia`s ABC TV showed live footage of a large contingent of police officers arriving pre-dawn at Bali`s Kerobokan prison, where the two men have been held for a decade. 

The pair were convicted in 2005 as the ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine, who were arrested at Bali`s Denpasar airport for attempting to smuggle 8 kg (18 lb) of heroin to Australia.

The Australian government has stressed that Sukumaran and Chan have been rehabilitated in prison, where they mentor younger inmates.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said pardoning them would be a show of "strength" for Widodo and a vote of confidence in Indonesia`s ability to rehabilitate offenders.

Abbott said Australia`s lobbying on behalf of the men had previously shown some promise, but he no longer wanted to hold out false hope.

"There were some suggestions earlier that perhaps at least some people in the Indonesian systems were having second thoughts but I`m afraid those signals seem to be dissipating," he said.