Asia Families visit Australian inmates on Indonesian island

Families visit Australian inmates on Indonesian island


A ship transfers family of Australian death row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to Nusakambangan Island at Wijaya Pura Port in Cilacap,
A ship transfers family of Australian death row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to Nusakambangan Island at Wijaya Pura Port in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia, Monday, March 9, 2015. Relatives of two Australian death row prisoners made their first visit on Monday to the Indonesian prison island where the convicted drug traffickers are to be executed soon by firing squads.

(AA) – Family members of two Australian death row inmates in Indonesia have visited them for the first time since the drug convicts’ transfer to a prison island where they face execution.

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan had not received visitors for seven days as Chan’s girlfriend and his brother were not allowed at a Bali prison, where they were previously held, ahead of their move to Nusa Kambangan — where visits are only permitted Mondays and Wednesdays.

Their family members — including Sukumaran’s parents and Chan’s mother — boarded a wooden wharf Monday for the 400-meter trip from Cilacap port, accompanied by Australia’s consul general to Bali.

Prior to their departure from Cilacap, Sukumaran’s brother Chinthu said, “My mum, sister and I have been counting down the days. We’ve been told he’s doing well.”

“We want to see it for ourselves and make sure and see him to let him know that we love him,” Australian news broadcaster ABC quoted him as saying.

Chan’s brother Michael said, “It’s been a few days, so you know, we are just looking forward to seeing them when we get over there, to give him a hug.”

“We’re just going to see how the boys are…”

Indonesian news website quoted him as saying, “we are confident they will be free and back together with their families.”

The relatives left the island at around noon, returning to the Wijayapura Dock as reporters waited at the gates and were blocked by bodyguards and staff from the Australian Consulate General.  

The family members plan to pay another visit Wednesday to the island, where authorities have set the visitation time between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Peter Morrissey, a lawyer for the “Bali Nine” duo, was quoted by ABC as saying: “The Indonesian authorities, generally speaking, are very humane about the way in which visits are conducted and we expect that they’ll be allowed to have contact in peace and spend time together.”

On Thursday, a court will hear an appeal against Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s refusal to grant the men clemency, as the executions of 10 inmates appear to have been postponed until their legal processes conclude.

Tony Spontana, Indonesian attorney-general spokesperson, has refused to provide details about the date of the executions as the lawyers of some inmates continue exploring available legal avenues.  

“I can only confirm that the executions will not be conducted this week. I cannot even guarantee that they will be conducted this month,” he said, according to the Jakarta Post.

They include Filipino Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso who has not been transferred to Nusa Kambangan as the Supreme Court is set to hear a judicial review of her case Tuesday, and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte who has a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The planned executions have strained relations between Indonesia and some of the countries whose nationals are involved, including Australia and Brazil.

Chan and Sukumaran were convicted of leading the Bali Nine trafficking gang that attempted to smuggle 8.3 kilograms (18 pounds) of heroin through Indonesia in 2005.

Widodo has adopted a tough stance on drug traffickers, denying clemency while Indonesia faces a “drug emergency.” 

The death penalty was resumed in 2013 after a five-year gap, according to Amnesty International. Earlier this year, six drug offenders — including five foreigners — were executed despite diplomatic pleas.

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