Bali Nine: Indonesia gears up final preparations for executions as families wail in grief

Indonesia made final
preparations Tuesday to execute eight foreigners by firing squad, as
family members wailed in grief during last visits to their loved ones
and ambulances carrying white coffins arrived at the drug convicts’
Relatives of
and , the Australian ringleaders of the
so-called “Bali Nine” heroin trafficking group, arrived at Nusakambangan
prison calling for mercy for their loved ones, with Sukumaran’s sister
collapsing in grief.

Crosses for condemned drug convicts (L-R)
Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, and Nigerian Okwudili
Oyatanze are seen at a church in Cilacap on April 28, 2015, ahead of
convicts’ imminent execution (AFP Photo/Azka)
They are
among nine prisoners, including nationals from Brazil, the Philippines,
, and one Indonesian, facing imminent execution after
authorities gave them final notice.

Officials must give a minimum
72 hours notice to convicts facing execution, and as they were notified
on Saturday, speculation is mounting they will be put to death early
Executions are traditionally carried out just after
midnight in Indonesia by a 12-man firing squad, with the condemned
prisoner led to a clearing and tied to a post.
– Screaming for mercy –

The convicts’ relatives
have been told to say their final farewells on Tuesday and Australian
media have published photos of crosses that will be used for the
coffins, inscribed with Wednesday’s date, 29.04.2015.

Joko Widodo, who believes Indonesia is facing an emergency due to rising
drugs use, has signalled his determination to push on with the
executions despite mounting international condemnation led by UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Families were originally told to
say their final farewells by 2:00 pm (0700 GMT) on Tuesday, but the
attorney-general’s office later said they had been given a few extra
hours, until 8:00 pm.
The families of Chan and Sukumaran, who have
been visiting them frequently in recent days, were unable to control
their emotions as they arrived at Cilacap, the town that serves as the
gateway to Nusakambangan.
As they were mobbed by a huge scrum of
journalists, members of Sukumaran’s family screamed and cried out
“mercy” as they walked in a slow procession to the port.

Brintha Sukumaran (L), the sister of Australian drug convict and death
row prisoner Myuran Sukumaran, breaks down after arriving at
Nusakambangan port in Cilalcap on April 28, 2015 (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad)

His sister Brintha wailed and called out her brother’s name, collapsing into the arms of family members who had to carry her.
who like Sukumaran is in his 30s, married his Indonesian girlfriend in a
jailhouse ceremony with family and friends on Nusakambangan on Monday,
his final wish.
Todung Mulya Lubis, a lawyer for the Australians,
returned from Nusakambangan with paintings by Sukumaran, an
accomplished artist, including one signed by all nine death row convicts
as they counted down their final hours.
The painting — entitled “One Heart, One Feeling, One Love” — depicts a heart in bold colours.
– ‘Evil man’ –

Police secure the Nusakambangan port in Cilacap located across from
Nusakambangan maximum security prison island on April 28, 2015 (AFP
Photo/Romeo Gacad)
“Jesus always love us until in the eternal life,” wrote
Filipina prisoner Mary Jane Veloso, signed with a heart and with the
words “keep smile” below the message.
The family of Veloso, who
was convicted for trying to smuggle heroin into Indonesia but claims she
was duped by international drug syndicates, also arrived in Cilacap en
route to Nusakambangan to pay a final visit, racing past waiting
reporters in a van.
As they got out of the vehicle, Filipino
priest Father Harold Toledano gave them each a blessing before they
headed to the island. Among the group were Veloso’s two sons, aged six
and 12.
has mounted a vigorous campaign to save its citizens, who have been on death row for almost a decade.
Minister Julie Bishop said Monday the executions should be halted until
a corruption investigation into judges who presided over the case is
complete, but Widodo dismissed the request.
Veloso’s case has
attracted huge attention in her native Philippines, and the country’s
President Benigno Aquino on Monday asked Widodo on the sidelines of a
summit to grant her clemency. However, Attorney-General Muhammad
Prasetyo said Tuesday her execution would go ahead.
gathered outside the Indonesian embassy in Manila, where they have been
holding regular candlelight vigils for Veloso, calling on Widodo to
change his mind.

“He wants
to portray himself as a strong leader but by executing an innocent
woman, he will portray himself as an evil man,” said Sol Pillas, head of
Philippines migrant workers’ advocacy group Migrante.

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