Sydney, April 29: A top official from Australia's foreign ministry called the death penalty an "abuse of state power" on Wednesday after the reported execution of two Australian drug convicts in Indonesia.
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were the ringleaders of the "Bali Nine" heroin trafficking gang and were sentenced to death in 2006, with their executions carried out on the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan after midnight last night, local reports said.
Chan and Sukumaran were the first Australians to be executed since December 2005, when 25-year-old Nguyen Tuong Van was hanged in Singapore for smuggling heroin.
Australia's parliamentary secretary to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Steven Ciobo, said on Twitter that "there are few greater displays of abuse of State power and regressive thinking than the death penalty. #RIP", apparently in reference to the reported executions.
Meanwhile one of the Indonesian lawyers representing the two Australians lamented his "failure" to hold back the firing squad. Todung Mulya Lubis said he was "sorry" on the social media site. "I failed. I lost," he added.
Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten and shadow foreign minister Tanya Plibersek called for a "strong response" from the Australian government in a joint statement. "As a close friend and neighbour of Indonesia, Australia is deeply hurt that our pleas for mercy were ignored," the statement said.
"It was completely unacceptable for Indonesia to proceed as it did when critical legal processes were yet to run their course, raising serious questions about Indonesia's commitment to the rule of law."
Before the executions, Bishop told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation there would be "consequences" if the shootings were carried out, but did not provide any further details. Rights group Amnesty International described the reported killings as "cruel, senseless and abhorrent".
"We stand in solidarity with the families of all those who were brutally executed in this senseless, tragic and wasteful act of state-sanctioned murder," Amnesty International's crisis campaigner Diana Sayed said in a statement.
"Despite promising steps away from the death penalty prior to 2013 and four years without any executions, Indonesia's resumption of this cruel and inhuman punishment has put them well out of step with the rest of the world." Amnesty called on the Australian government to continue speaking out against the death penalty.