• Indonesia EXECUTES Foreign Drug Smugglers

    Indonesia stuck to its guns Tuesday night, executing seven foreign drug smugglers, including the leaders of the so-called “Bali 9” by firing squad despite substantial international pressure to commute their sentences.

    Among those executed were Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who became famous worldwide as the ringleaders of an Australian drug smuggling ring dubbed the “Bali Nine.” The group were arrested in 2005 for planning to smuggle more than $3 million in heroin from Indonesia to Australia. That effort ran afoul of Indonesia’s extremely harsh drug laws, which allow for both the death penalty and life imprisonment for smuggling offenses. Seven of the nine received sentences ranging from 20 years to life in prison, but the Chan and Sukumaran were sentenced to death.

    The executions were carried out shortly after midnight local time on the small island of Nusakambangan, which Indonesia uses as its execution ground. The prisoners were transported to the island several weeks ago, notified of their imminent execution over the weekend, and on Tuesday night marched to the execution ground. Shortly after midnight local time, they were gunned down by a 12-man firing squad, along with six other prisoners. One of the condemned, a Filipina woman named Mary Jane Veloso, was given a temporary reprieve at the eleventh hour.

    The saga of the Bali 9 caused consternation in Australia, where the death penalty has been abolished. Indonesia has been barraged with diplomatic pressure from Australia and many other countries (not to mention the U.N.), but the government of president Joko Widodo held firm.

    “We want to send a strong message to drug smugglers that Indonesia is firm and serious in tackling the drug problem, and one of the consequences is execution if the court sentences them to death,” Widodo told Al Jazeera a month ago. Widodo said that countries protesting the executions were meddling in Indonesia’s sovereign right to decide how to punish its criminals.

    Along with the Australians, those killed hailed from Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana and Indonesia itself.

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