Indonesia executes 8, including 7 foreign drug convicts; defies global anger

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Cilacap, Apr 29: Indonesia executed seven foreign drug convicts including two Australians by firing squad but a Filipina was spared at the 11th hour, local reports said.

Defying a firestorm of international criticism and heartrending pleas by relatives, authorities put the seven plus a local man to death after midnight Tuesday (1700 GMT), the reports said. [Australia condemns Indonesia execution, says it's an abuse of state power]

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However the Filipina, Mary Jane Veloso, was spared after someone suspected of recruiting her and tricking her into carrying drugs to Indonesia turned herself in to authorities in the Philippines, MetroTV and the Jakarta Post reported. [Australia withdraws ambassador to Indonesia]

Eight convicts -- two Australians, one from Brazil and four from Africa, as well as the Indonesian -- were put to death on the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, the reports said.

In Indonesian executions, convicts are led to clearings just after midnight, tied to posts and then giving the option of kneeling, standing or sitting before being executed by 12-man firing squads.

President Joko Widodo has been a vocal supporter of the death penalty for drug traffickers, claiming Indonesia is facing an emergency due to rising narcotics use.

He has turned a deaf ear to appeals from the international community led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. In an 11th hour bid to stop the executions, the European Union, Australia and France warned in a joint statement late Tuesday the move would have an "impact on Indonesia's position in the world and its international reputation".

In the hours before the convicts were put to death, there was a flurry of activity as ambulances carried coffins to the island, and relatives made final anguished visits to their loved ones. Relatives of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the Australian ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" heroin trafficking group, wailed in grief as they headed to the island, and one relative collapsed amid a huge scrum of journalists.

"I am asking the government not to kill him. Call off the execution. Please don't take my son," said Sukumaran's mother Raji, in a tearful plea after visiting him.

Chan, 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.

The news of the temporary reprieve for Veloso, who claims she was duped into smuggling drugs into Indonesia by international drugs syndicates, comes after a huge campaign to save her in the Philippines.

President Benigno Aquino had urged Widodo on the sidelines of a summit this week to grant her clemency.

AFP

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