• Sydney protests looming execution

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    SYDNEY: Australia has formally complained to Indonesia over the treatment of two men facing the firing squad, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Friday, amid reports their execution could be delayed for up to 10 days.

    Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug trafficking gang, were moved on Wednesday to the place where they are due to be killed.

    Australia was dismayed at  the level of security used to transport them from Bali to the so-called “execution island” of Nusakambangan with dozens of armed police on hand, and outraged that photographs emerged from on board the plane.

    One picture showed a smiling Denpasar police chief commissioner Djoko Hari Utomo apparently posing for a selfie with his hand on the back of a seated Chan, who was ashen-faced.

    Another showed the commissioner placing his hand on the shoulder of Sukumaran, who was looking up at him.

    “I thought they were unbecoming and showed a lack of respect and dignity and we have protested to the Indonesian ambassador here in Canberra,” Abbott told reporters of the pictures that were widely published in Australia.

    Treasurer Joe Hockey added that the treatment of the pair had been inappropriate.

    “It was incredibly insensitive, it’s almost macabre the way this has been handled by the Indonesian authorities,” he said.

    The Australians, in their early 30s, were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia. They recently lost their appeals for presidential clemency, typically the final chance to avoid the firing squad.

    Australia on Thursday proposed a prisoner swap in an 11th-hour bid to save them, but it was rejected by Jakarta which said the men had “poisoned our nation.”

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Friday brushed aside concerns about Australia’s mounting anger at plans to execute the pair.

    “It doesn’t matter,” he responded when asked about the issue in East Java.

    “We are good friends, this [the death penalty]is another area,” he added.

    ‘Go to hell’

    On Friday, a group of around two dozen protesters demonstrated in Cilacap, the port town that is the gateway to Nusakambangan, carrying signs advocating the death penalty for drug traffickers.

    “Go to hell drug criminals,” read one banner, with another claiming the death penalty was the only way to save Indonesia’s youth.

    The demonstrators then burnt a life-sized straw doll wrapped in a white sheet, that represented a young Indonesian victim of drugs.

    Chan and Sukumaran are among a group of drug convicts, including foreigners from France, Brazil, the Philippines, Nigeria and Ghana, who are expected to be executed at the same time on the prison island.

    Authorities must give them 72 hours’ notice before they are shot dead and reports on Friday suggested their executions could be pushed back by up to 10 days.

    The Australian Broadcasting Corporation cited Indonesia’s Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly as saying there would be a “short delay” while Fairfax Media quoted Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo suggesting it could be longer.

    “About notification, it’s a minimum three days before the execution,” he said. “It could be 10 days,” he added.

    AFP

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