Indonesia court rejects death penalty appeals


By Arlina Arshad, AFP

JAKARTA, Indonesia — An Indonesian court Monday dismissed an appeal by two Australian drug smugglers facing imminent execution, and the country’s legal chief said the pair have now exhausted all options to avoid the firing squad. Following the ruling lawyers for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran vowed to take the case to the constitutional court �X but Indonesia’s attorney-general accused the legal team of ��playing with justice�� and said the move would not delay the executions.

The state administrative court in Jakarta upheld a decision that it does not have the authority to hear a challenge to President Joko Widodo’s rejection of the Australians’ pleas for clemency. Chan and Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the so-called ��Bali Nine�� drug trafficking gang, were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.

Widodo recently rejected their mercy pleas, typically the final chance to avoid execution. They are expected to be executed soon along with other drug convicts, including foreigners from France, Brazil, the Philippines, Nigeria and Ghana.

Jakarta has said it will wait for all legal appeals to be resolved before putting the group to death at the same time. Some other convicts have lodged supreme court appeals, which could take weeks to resolve.

The Australians’ legal team has mounted several attempts to halt the executions. In the latest, they called for the state administrative court to hear an appeal against Widodo’s clemency rejection, saying that he failed to properly assess their rehabilitation or give reasons for his decision. The court refused to accept the application in February, and the Australians’ lawyers appealed that decision.

At a hearing on Monday presiding Judge Ujang Abdullah upheld the original decision that the court does not have jurisdiction to rule on the matter. ‘Playing with justice’

After the decision, a lawyer for the Australians, Leonard Aritonang, told reporters the legal battle would continue, with lawyers planning to file an application to the constitutional court to review laws related to clemency. ��We are still hopeful … they are part of a successful rehabilitation program,�� he said, referring to the claim from the men’s supporters that they have been successfully rehabilitated during years in prison. ��It’s a shame that they have to die in the end. What encourages us to keep going through all the options is that, although they have been convicted, in this country every person has the right to life and to defend his life.�� However, authorities have repeatedly insisted that a death row convict’s final chance to avoid the firing squad is through presidential clemency.

Asked about the planned challenge to the constitutional court, Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo said there would be no more delays to the executions. ��The legal process is already done,�� he said. ��This proves that they are simply trying to buy time. We can say they are playing with justice.�� The looming executions have soured ties with Indonesia’s neighbor and key ally, Australia, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott repeatedly appealing for the men to be spared. After Monday’s ruling, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Canberra was disappointed.