Australia withdraws ambassador to Indonesia

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Sydney, April 29: Austrailan Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced Wednesday morning the withdrawal of the country's ambassador to Indonesia following the execution of two of its citizens, media reported.

Abbott announced during a press conference that Australia will withdraw its ambassador to Indonesia following the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on Tuesday, Sydney Morning Herald reported.

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"These executions are both cruel and unnecessary," Abbott was quoted as saying.

"We respect Indonesia's sovereignty but we do deplore what's been done and this cannot be simply business as usual. For that reason, once all the courtesies have been extended to the Chan and Sukumaran families our ambassador will be withdrawn for consultations."

Australia has not withdrawn ambassadors when other Australian citizens have been subjected to the death penalty. [Australia condemns Indonesia execution, says it's an abuse of state power]

"I want to stress that this is a very important relationship between Australia and Indonesia but it has suffered as a result of what's been done over the last few hours," he said.

Bishop said that Australia's ambassador, Paul Grigson, will return to Australia by the end of the week for consultations with the government about the future of his country's relationship with Indonesia.

"The withdrawal of an ambassador is to register our displeasure at the way our citizens have been treated," Bishop said. [Australian convict marries ahead of execution]

Indonesia on Tuesday executed eight out of nine people convicted for drug smuggling despite last-ditch appeals by Australia's foreign minister for a stay on the execution so that claims of corruption during the trials of two Australian prisoners could be investigated.

The executions were carried out by firing squad at midnight at Besi prison on Nusakambangan Island on Tuesday, after the inmates were given three-days notice, Al Jazeera reported.

Over the weekend, the authorities asked the nine inmates -- two Australian men, four Nigerian men, a Filipino woman, and one man each from Brazil and Indonesia -- their last wishes.

It was not immediately known which of the convicts was spared.

The families of the Australian convicts had paid an anguished final visit to their loved ones on Tuesday, wailing in grief as ambulances carrying empty white coffins arrived at the prison.

Bishop told the media that she received a letter from Indonesia on Monday night that offered no indication of a reprieve for Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

Earlier in the day, Bishop had asked for a stay in their executions, saying that allegations in the Australian media that their judges had requested money to commute the death sentences were "very serious".

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said such concerns should have been conveyed a decade ago when the case went through the courts.

IANS

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