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Nigerians, Australians, others in last-ditch hope against executions

An Indonesian court will Thursday hear an appeal by two Australian drug smugglers on death row against President Joko Widodo’s refusal to grant them clemency, a last-ditch effort to halt the looming executions. Nigeria’s Raheem Agbaje Salami and Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise are affected by facing execution along with the Australians. The others are Frenchman Serge Atlaoui, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte and Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso.
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug smuggling gang, were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia. Their appeals for presidential clemency, typically a death row convict’s final chance of avoiding the firing squad, were rejected by Widodo.
Widodo, a vocal supporter of the death penalty for drug traffickers, claimed that Indonesia is facing an “emergency” due to rising narcotics use. The Administrative Court last month dismissed a bid to challenge that decision, saying clemency was the president’s prerogative which it had no right to overturn. Their lawyers had since lodged an appeal against that dismissal and were awaiting judgement.
“The next hearing on Thursday will be the response from the president’s team about our challenge,” one of their lawyers, Doly James, told Agence France Presse (AFP). “The reason for the rejection of clemency was unclear, when we had been very clear why these two deserved clemency,” he said. Indonesian authorities last week moved the pair from Bali to the prison island of Nusakambangan, indicating that they would soon be executed. They are among a group of drug convicts, who are expected to be executed at the same time on the island.

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