Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Have the Lambs Stopped Screaming, Jokowi? 60 more face firing squad

60 more drug convicts to face firing squad

The National Narcotics Agency (BNN) has revealed that 60 more death row convicts were waiting their turn for execution.

"Around 60 people sentenced to death for drug trafficking are waiting their turn to be executed," kompas.com quoted BNN head Anang Iskandar as saying at a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.

8 death row inmates, mostly foreigners, were put to death by a firing squad on Nusakambangan Island, off Cilacap, Central Java, on Wednesday, while 2 more - Frenchman Serge Atlaoui and Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso - were expected to face the firing squad as soon as possible.

Anang, accompanied by Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara, said the government should remain consistent in enforcing the death penalty to send a good message to others as well as to reduce to a minimum the rampant trafficking of drugs within and into the country.

The death sentence imposed on drug dealers and traffickers is regulated in Law No. 35/2009 on narcotics.

Source: Jakarta Post, April 29, 2015

Indonesia's bloodthirsty desire for crime and punishment

Selfies with guards on the flight from Bali to Nusa Kambangan
The brutal executions in Indonesia mark a fresh horror in a country notable for its bizarre and bloody history of capital punishment.

It was the culmination of an inhumane 10-year ordeal for Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan and their families, the death sentence doled out despite desperate pleas from across the world.

Indonesia's authorities turned the 8 deaths into a humiliating spectacle, forcing the condemned Australians to pose for selfies with guards on their flight from Denpasar to the island where they were to die.

Their families were prevented from seeing them as they were bundled in handcuffs out of Kerobakan Prison into an armoured vehicle, as 100 armed police lined up outside the prison in a sickening display of toughness that Tony Abbott called "macabre" and "undignified".

Execution rates in the nation have been characterised by unpredictable stops and starts, often based on campaigning presidents looking to denounce particular crimes.

President Joko Widodo's crackdown on drugs since his election in October has left him blind to the duo's rehabilitation and remorse, and deaf to the pleas and condemnation of the international community.

The death penalty appeared on Indonesian statutes when the republic was formed in 1949, but only 3 executions took place under Indonesia's1st President Sukarno, for an attempt to assassinate him in the late 1950s, according to Daniel Pascoe from City University of Hong Kong. Executions remained rare until the trials of 22 alleged Indonesian Communist Party conspirators in the late 1960s and early 1970s under 2nd president, Suharto.

During Suharto's 31-year rule, a further 9 people were executed for murder and 6 for Islamic terrorism, according to Indonesian NGO Kontras.

That changed in 1975, when Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia introduced the death penalty for serious drug offences, in a bid to halt the flow of narcotics through Asia from the Golden Triangle. During the "reform area" that followed the president's resignation in 1998, 60 % of executions were for drug-related crimes.

In August 2004, President Megawati Sukarnoputri ordered the 1st capital punishment in the country for 3 years. Indian Ayodhya Prasad Chaubey, 67, was executed by firing squad on the island of Sumatra for drug smuggling, just weeks before a close-run election, which Sukarnoputri lost to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The next spike in executions came in 2008, when 10 people were killed (murderers, drug traffickers, and 3 "Bali bombers") as President Yudhoyono faced pressure to prove he was tough on crime ahead of 2009's presidential election.

By May 2014, just 5 of the 70 terrorists convicted for their involvement in the Bali bombings remained in jail, with most walking free, making a nonsense of the nation's inconsistent enforcement of capital punishment.

Humanitarian agencies started to hope the death penalty was all but abolished when no one was put to death in Indonesia for 4 years from 2009 and 2012, although more than 100 remained on death row and the country continued to issue the death sentence in court.

But in March 2013, Indonesia ended the moratorium by executing Malawi drug trafficker Adami Wilson, followed by 3 murder convicts at Nusa Kambangan prison that May and a Palestinian drug smuggler in November.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo: "Talking the language of power"
Yet the country has defended its citizens against the death penalty overseas. Indonesian maid Ruyati binti Sapubi was executed by beheading in Saudi Arabia in 2011, after she was convicted of murdering an employer she said had kept her enslaved. It sparked a wave of sympathy in Indonesia and President Yudhoyono announced a moratorium on Indonesian citizens heading to the Gulf kingdom for work.

Between 2012 and 2015, the Sunday Telegraph reported that 189 Indonesian prisoners in countries including Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, Singapore had their death sentences commuted, after being convicted of crimes including drug smuggling.

"Of course I'm going to try to save my citizens from execution," said Widodo last month. "That's my obligation as a president, as a head of state ... To protect my citizens who are facing the death penalty but on the other hand we have to respect other countries that apply capital punishment. The constitution and the existing law still allows the death penalty. But, if the Indonesian people want to change it in the future, then it's possible, why not?"

The nation's citizens may be its best hope. Divided factions have protested for and against the executions of Chan and Sukumaran in recent times. In September 2006, thousands protested after 3 Christian militants were executed on Sulawesi. The extremists had masterminded a series of attacks on the island's Muslims, killing at least 70.

Since 1975, far more prisoners have been sentenced to death than executed, as a result of judicial appeals, case reviews and grants of presidential clemency. Those executed this year are victims of Widodo's dogged refusal to grant clemency to at least 64 people sentenced to death for drug-related crimes.

The president declared his intention in December, 2 months after his election, citing the industry's devastating impact on the country's young people. In January, his vicious crackdown was realised as 5 foreign nationals and 1 Indonesian were executed by firing squad, and this morning, 8 more followed, despite international pleas for mercy and Sukumaran and Chan's 10 years of rehabilitation.

At least 130 people remain on death row in Indonesia and the government has announced plans for further executions this year. Elsewhere, we await an end to its use of human life as political capital.

Source: news.com.au, April 29, 2015

"Reprehensible" executions show complete disregard for human rights safeguards

The execution of eight people in Indonesia today shows complete disregard for due process and human rights safeguards, Amnesty International said. The organization also called for any plans to carry out further executions to be scrapped.

8 people, including Indonesian and foreign nationals, were today put to death by firing squad on Nusakambangan Island, off Java. All of them had been convicted of drug trafficking. The execution of a Filipina national, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, was halted at the last minute by President Widodo

"These executions are utterly reprehensible - they were carried out with complete disregard for internationally recognized safeguards on the use of the death penalty," said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International's Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

"President Joko Widodo should immediately abandon plans to carry out further executions and impose a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards abolition."

There were at least 2 ongoing legal appeals from the death row prisoners which had been accepted by the courts. The clemency petitions of all 8 prisoners had been summarily considered and rejected, undermining their right to appeal for pardon or commutation of their sentence as provided for under international law.

14 people have now been put to death in Indonesia in 2015, and the government has announced plans for further executions this year.

"The death penalty is always a human rights violation, but there are a number of factors that make today's executions even more distressing. Some of the prisoners were reportedly not provided access to competent lawyers or interpreters during their arrest and initial trial, in violation of their right to a fair trial which is recognized under international and national law," said Rupert Abbott.

"One of those executed today, Rodrigo Gularte, had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and international law clearly prohibits the use of the death penalty against those with mental disabilities. It's also troubling that people convicted of drug trafficking have been executed, even though this does not meet the threshold of 'most serious crimes' for which the death penalty can be imposed under international law."


Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases and under any circumstances, regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty violates the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The protection of the right to life is also recognized in Indonesia's Constitution. So far, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

There is no compelling evidence that the death penalty prevents crime more effectively than other punishments. A comprehensive study carried out by the United Nations on the relationship between the death penalty and homicide rates concluded that research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment.

The 8 individuals executed today are Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (both Australian, males), Raheem Agbaje Salami (Nigerian, male. Also known as Jamiu Owolabi Abashin), Zainal Abidin (Indonesian, male), Martin Anderson alias Belo (Ghanaian, male), Rodrigo Gularte (Brazilian, male), Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise (Nigerian, male) and Okwudili Oyatanze (Nigerian, male).

Source: Amnesty International USA, April 29, 2015

Death row inmates refused blindfolds so they could look their killers in the eyes

Wooden cross used for executions in Indonesia.
Painting by Myuran Sukumaran, April 2015
All 8 men shot by an Indonesian firing squad refused to wear blindfolds so they could stare down their 12 executioners and were singing with their final breaths.

Pastor Karina de Vega said some prisoners sung for one another, their voices carrying through the night air before being silenced.

"They were praising their God," Pastor de Vega told Fairfax Media.

The families of Bali 9 pair have released a statement following the executions.

"It was breathtaking. This was the first time I witnessed someone so excited to meet their God."

One sung Amazing Grace in an experience Pastor Vega described as the most beautiful moment she ever experienced.

"They bonded together," she said.

"Brotherhood. They sang one song after another. Praising God. They sang a few songs together, like in a choir. The non-Christian I believe also sang from his heart. It was such an experience."

The condemned men died from shots to the heart, meaning it was not necessary for the firing squad commander to shoot any in the head which is the protocol if a prisoner does not die after 10 minutes.

"Everyone was looking forward, it seems everyone accepted their fate," said Father Charles Burrows, who aided Brazilian man Rodrigo Gularte with spiritual guidance in his final days.

The priest said the execution of Gularte was difficult to deal with because the 42-year-old was mentally ill having been diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager.

"We didn't think it would happen. It is finished. It's all done," Father Burrows said.

Gularte was said to fear the electromagnetic waves of satellites he believed were watching him from above the island prison of Nusakambangan and he talked to animals.

He was convinced in his deluded state of mind that Indonesia had abolished the death penalty and he would be sent home to Brazil next year in a prisoner extradition agreement.

The Melbourne-based husband of Pastor Christie Buckingham, who is in Indonesia, said she sent him a text message following the executions saying the men conducted themselves with "dignity and strength until the end".

"She told me the 8 of them walked out onto the killing field singing songs of praise," Rob Buckingham told 3AW radio.

There were concerns Ms Buckingham wouldn't be allowed to see the men before their deaths, but a last-minute reprieve allowed her to read them their last rites, Mr Buckingham said.

Artist Ben Quilty, a close friend and mentor to Myuran Sukumaran, said on Tuesday night the Australian would stare his executioners in the eyes and face death with strength and dignity.

Among the prisoners was Nigerian gospel singer Okwudili Ayotanze who remained confident he would be taken off the execution list till the end while his appeal was pending at the Administrative Court.

Friends and others who came to know him while he was in prison over the past decade were hurt Ayotanze's case had been left so late, believing he might have been spared had the process started sooner.

One friend described him as the "Nigerian version of Andrew Chan", a man who redeemed himself by helping others and brought them from their cells to mass.

"He was a good person. I will really feel the loss," the friend said.

Source: 9news.com.au, April 29, 2015

Legislator regrets UN Secretary General's statement on Indonesia's execution plan

Indonesian lawmaker TB Hasanuddin expressed regret over UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moons statement, which intervenes in the Indonesian governments plan to execute some foreign death row convicts mostly involved in drug-related crimes.

"The statement by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which interferes in Indonesias execution plan, is very regrettable," he stated in a press release, here, Tuesday.

The death sentence is a positive punishment in line with the existing laws in Indonesia, so the UN secretary general should not intervene as it is not related to a conflict between the 2 countries, he noted.

Several countries including Malaysia and even the United States still impose capital punishment, but he said the UN secretary general had never interfered, he claimed.

He suspected that Ban Ki-moon was being pressured by Australia, France, and Brazil.

Ban Ki-moon's statement could lower the UNs credibility as he never intervened in the executions carried out in other countries, he affirmed.

A spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on April 25 urging the Government of Indonesia to refrain from carrying out the execution, as announced, of the nine prisoners on death row for alleged drug-related crimes.

In accordance with the international law, if death penalty is to be granted at all, it should only be imposed for the most heinous of crimes, such as for those involved in intentional killings and only with appropriate safeguards, Ban emphasized.

"Drug-related offenses are generally not considered to fall under the category of most serious crimes," he noted in the statement.

Recalling that the United Nations opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, the secretary-general urges President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia, with a view towards abolition, it added.

Source: Antara News, April 29, 2015

Chan and Sukumaran lawyer said there had been real hope of last minute clemency

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Peter Morrissey SC has been part of the legal team representing Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. He spoke to ABC News Breakfast earlier this morning.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Did you really have hope that maybe, just maybe something could happen at the last minute?

PETER MORRISSEY: Yes. yeah, we did because had two bona fide legal processes - one in the Constitutional Court, the other one down at the Judicial Commission. Each one of them should have caused anyone on death row to be adjourned or deferred.

There was terrible corruption at the start of this case and in terms of the Constitutional Court matter, well, president Widodo didn't give individual consideration to our 2 boys. They were just shot as part of the mass mob.

Look, it's a funny thing to say, it's awful, Virginia, I know but the 2 boys died well, you know. They made their preparations. They were dignified. They're strong against the death penalty. They're supportive of their families.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: It just seemed - there seemed to be a rather pig headed blind spot when it came to these two men in the Indonesian legal and political system. Is that your view too?

PETER MORRISSEY: No, it's not, it's not my view. I don't think they were singled out for being Australian. I hope that rabbit doesn't start running. The first thing is that the boys were killed and that's just.... it's - it's horrible and it's the death penalty at work.

The 2nd thing is that the Indonesian president and his attorney general are both politicians in a position of weakness and they're using this as a display of strength. And it's horrible to see that, you know, they're prepared to dispense with lives - probably 63-odd lives at the moment - for that end.

And finally, the way they rode over their justice system, it's confronting to me as a lawyer and those of us in the legal team who tried our best, it's as if we're using the wrong song book, you know? We're talking the language of law and they - those 2 - are talking the language of power.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: That's lawyer Peter Morrissey, speaking to ABC News Breakfast's Virginia Trioli.

Source: ABC News, April 29, 2015

Veloso's legal team to try to prove her innocence once more

Mary Jane Veloso's sons and family
A member of Philippine death row inmate Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso's legal team, Agus Salim, says the team will use the postponement of her execution to prove her innocence.

"[Her family] were happy even though it is only a temporary reprieve. They cried tears of happiness but they know this doesn't mean her execution is cancelled," he said on Wednesday. Veloso was among 9 death row inmates slated to be executed in the early hours of Wednesday for drug trafficking charges.

She was arrested in possession of 2.6 kilograms of heroin at Adisucipto International Airport in Yogyakarta in 2010. The government announced Veloso's execution would be postponed after the Philippine government said Veloso was needed to testify as a witness for alleged trafficker Maria Kristina Sergio, who voluntarily turned herself in to the police on Tuesday. Veloso was one of Sergio's trafficking victims.

Agus said Veloso's legal team would try to file a 3rd appeal after the investigation of Sergio began.

"We want to prove that she was just a migrant worker who was trafficked and became a drug courier," he said.

However, he acknowledged the Supreme Court's regulation that a case review appeal could only be filed once was problematic, especially since the Constitutional Court had ruled otherwise. "This difference [between the two courts] is hampering efforts to find the truth," Agus said.

Veloso had previously filed 2 case review appeals at the Supreme Court, but both were rejected.

"Everyone knows she had no intention [to bring the drugs]. She does not have to be free, we are just trying to find the lightest sentence we can get for her and avoid the death penalty," Agus said.

Defying intense pressure from the international community, the government executed 8 death row inmates early on Wednesday on Nusakambangan prison island near Cilacap in Central Java. The 8 were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami and Okwudili Oyatanze and Ghanaian Martin Anderson.

Source: The Jakarta Post, April 29, 2015

Will British grandmother be next to face the firing squad? 

Lindsay Sandiford in her Kerobokan death row cell
Woman on death row in Bali condemns 'senseless, brutal deaths' of two Australian fellow prisoners shot dead on Execution Island. 

Lindsay Sandiford fears she will be next to face the firing squad

A British grandmother on death row in Bali for smuggling cocaine has condemned the execution of the Australian Bali Nine duo as 'senseless and brutal'.

Lindsay Sandiford, 58, from Cheltenham, now fears she will be the next to face the firing squad and said she 'feels like giving up' and 'just wants to get it over with'.

Australians Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, were executed along with 6 other prisoners by an Indonesian firing squad.

The grandmother told a friend she was 'utterly heartbroken' at the news about Chan, who she had befriended in Bali's squalid Kerobokan prison.

The Australian pair were the first to die in the latest round of executions after a final KFC bucket meal.

She said: 'The men shot dead were reformed men - good men who transformed the lives of people around them. Their senseless, brutal deaths leave the world a poorer place.If they kill someone as good as Andrew, what hope is there for me?

'I just want to get it over with. I feel like just giving up.'

Sandiford says Chan - who was sentenced to death in 2005 for masterminding the so-called Bali 9 heroin smuggling plot - helped her cope in jail after she was given her death penalty 2 years ago.

She said: 'I really admire Andrew. He's been an incredible help to me and he would be there for anyone who genuinely needed help inside the prison.

'The heart of the prison has gone since they left. They organised rehabilitation projects. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have running water on the blocks, or the classes in painting, cookery and computers. I would like to send my deepest condolences to their families and loved ones.

'Many things have been said about whether Andrew and Myuran deserved to die for their crimes. I didn't know those men at the time they committed those crimes 10 years ago. What I can say is that the Andrew and Myuran I knew were men who did good and touched the lives of a great many people, including myself.'

Chan - who turned to Christianity and was ordained in prison earlier this year - told Sandiford shortly before his transfer to Execution Island that he was reconciled to his fate.

He said: 'I'm not afraid to die but I am afraid of dying. I'm scared of the bullets and I'm scared it won't be a quick death.'

Sandiford has been languishing on death row in Bali since being convicted of attempting to smuggle 1.6 million pounds worth of cocaine through the island's airport in 2012. She maintains she was forced to transport the drugs to protect her children, whose safety was at stake.

The British government refused a request to pay Sandiford's legal fees for her appeal.

Earlier ambulances carrying the corpses of Chan and Sukumaran arrived from the 'death island' where they were shot dead.

Ambulances carry the coffins back to the mainland
The families of Chan and Sukumaran released a statement following the executions.

'Today we lost Myuran and Andrew. Our sons, our brothers,' they said.

'In the 10 years since they were arrested, they did all they could to make amends, helping many others. They asked for mercy, but there was none.

'They were immensely grateful for all the support they received. We too, will be forever grateful.'

The others executed were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami and Okwudili Oyatanze, and Ghanaian Martin Anderson.

A law enforcement official was quoted saying: 'The executions went well, without any disruptions.'

In following through with the killings, the Indonesian government ignored agonised pleas for clemency from the prisoners' families and Australian and international officials.

All 8 death row prisoners refused to wear blindfolds, choosing instead to face their executioners.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso - the Filipino drug mule who was the 9th convict sentenced to death - was spared after new information emerged about her case.


'Today we lost Myuran and Andrew.

'Our sons, our brothers.

'In the 10 years since they were arrested, they did all they could to make amends, helping many others.

'They asked for mercy, but there was none.

'They were immensely grateful for all the support they received.

'We too, will be forever grateful.'

The Chan and Sukumaran families were staying together in a hotel in Cilacap when the murders occurred.

Some relatives who were on the island reportedly heard the deadly shots ringing out and 'became hysterical'.

A Twitter account purporting to belong to Chan's brother, Michael, tweeted: 'I have just lost a Courageous brother to a flawed Indonesian legal system. I miss you already RIP my Little Brother.'

One of the pair's lawyers, Peter Morrissey, told the Nine Network: 'It's a very sad time.. the 2 boys are gone.

'They were beautiful blokes. It is really sad.

'We did have a good (legal) argument. We still have a good argument. We just don't have anything to (argue) it for.

'We'll all keep fighting the death penalty for sure but it's not going to bring the boys back.'

One of the lawyers for the Bali 9, Todung Mulya Lubis, saw the loss of the young Australian men as a personal failure.

'I failed. I lost,' he wrote on social media. 'I am sorry'.

As the executions occurred, at nearby Cilacap port anti-death penalty protesters lit white candles and sang 'Hallelujah' and just outside the gates.

Later, a silence fell over the area with only singing voices, music of Amazing Grace and prayers heard for the doomed Bali 9 duo.

The Australian government is expected to retaliate for Wednesday's executions, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had long lobbied against.

Even in the final hours, officials were fighting the death penalty ruling.

Indonesia has some of the toughest drug laws in the world. It ended a 4-year moratorium on executions in 2013.

The country, which has now carried out 15 such executions in 4 months, has vowed to kill all of its 58 foreign drug convicts by the end of the year.

Source: Daily Mail, April 29, 2015

Indonesia defends executions, after convicts die singing

Indonesia on Wednesday staunchly defended its execution of 7 foreigners including 2 Australians as a vital front of its "war" on drugs as testimony emerged of how they went singing to their deaths.

Australia withdrew its ambassador in protest at the midnight executions, but Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he was merely applying "the rule of law" against narcotics traffickers.

The 7 convicts -- 2 from Australia, 1 from Brazil and 4 from Africa -- were shot by firing squad along with one Indonesian, despite strident foreign appeals and pleas from family members.

Brazil expressed "deep regret" at the execution of its national, who was mentally ill according to his family, and said it was weighing its next move.

The condemned men reportedly all refused blindfolds and sang hymns, among them "Amazing Grace", as they went to face the firing squad in a jungle clearing, according to a pastor who was with them.

As the clock ticked down to midnight, a group of tearful supporters also sang hymns, embraced and held candles aloft during a vigil at the port in Cilacap, the gateway to the prison island of Nusakambangan.

After the executions, family members could be seen crying as they were ushered away by friends and supporters, an AFP reporter saw.

A Filipina originally set to be executed was given an 11th hour reprieve after a woman who allegedly duped her into ferrying drugs to Indonesia came forward to police in the Philippines.

The reprieve for Mary Jane Veloso was hailed in the Philippines as a miracle and a gift from God, but Indonesian Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo stressed it was only a "postponement" to allow time for police investigations.

He added: "We are fighting a war against horrible drug crimes that threaten our nation's survival.

"I would like to say that an execution is not a pleasant thing. It is not a fun job," Prasetyo told reporters in Cilacap.

"But we must do it in order to save the nation from the danger of drugs. We are not making enemies of countries from where those executed came. What we are fighting against is drug-related crimes."

'They asked for mercy: there was none'

Prasetyo also played down Australia's decision to recall its ambassador, describing it as a "temporary reaction", while Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stressed Jakarta's desire to "continue having good relations" with one of its most important trading partners.

Australia had mounted a sustained campaign to save its citizens, who have been on death row for almost a decade, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the executions were "both cruel and unnecessary".

"We respect Indonesia's sovereignty but we do deplore what's been done and this cannot be simply business as usual," he said, announcing Australia's unprecedented step of recalling its Jakarta ambassador.

Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, ringleaders of the so-called "Bali 9" heroin trafficking gang, were described by Canberra as reformed men after years in prison.

The families said their sons did "all they could to make amends, helping many others" in the years since their arrests, with Sukumaran teaching fellow inmates English and art, and Chan ordained as a minister in February.

"They asked for mercy, but there was none. They were immensely grateful for all the support they received. We too, will be forever grateful," the families said in a joint statement.

Widodo, who took office in October, says Indonesia is facing an emergency due to rising drugs use, citing figures from the national anti-narcotics agency showing that more than 30 Indonesians die every day due to drugs.

Plain coffins

However some academics believe the agency's data is flawed, while critics accuse Widodo of pursuing a populist policy following recent political problems.

The bodies of Chan and Sukumaran, in plain wooden coffins, arrived in Jakarta after being driven from Cilacap in 2 ambulances. They were taken to a funeral home and will soon be flown back to Australia for burial.

There were very different scenes in the Philippines after the last-minute reprieve for Veloso, whose case attracted emotional appeals for mercy from boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao among others.

"Miracles do come true," her mother Celia told a Philippine radio station, adding that her daughter's two boys aged 12 and six were awake and yelling "Yes, yes, mama will live".

Little is known about the other 5 executed foreigners -- 3 of them are from Nigeria but it is not clear whether the fourth held Ghanaian or Nigerian nationality.

The execution of the Brazilian, Rodrigo Gularte, has generated much criticism in his homeland, with his family saying he suffered from schizophrenia and should not have faced the death penalty.

Gularte's cousin was seen crying as she left the port of Cilacap, accompanied by a religious counsellor.

A Frenchman was originally among the group to be executed but he was granted a temporary reprieve after authorities agreed to allow a legal appeal to run its course.

Source: Agence France-Presse, April 29, 2015

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