Indonesia has defended the execution of eight drug convicts, including seven foreign nationals, saying that the killings were necessary to fight the country's "war against drugs".

Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo told reporters in Cilacap, the gateway to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan where the executions took place, that the firing squad had executed the prisoners shortly after midnight local time on Wednesday morning.

Local pastors and officials told Australia's Fairfax media that the eight prisoners joined together to sing "Amazing Grace" immediately prior to the executions and chose not to wear blindfolds.

"The executions have been successfully implemented, perfectly," Prasetyo said. "All worked, no misses," he said of the executions of two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian man.


OPINION: Indonesia's dramatic executions hide the real problem


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

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

Profiles: Drug smuggling convicts executed in Indonesia

Martin Anderson, 50, Nigeria, arrested in Jakarta in 2003 with 50g of heroin.

Jamiu Owolabi Abashin, 50, Nigeria, arrested in 1998 at Surabaya airport with about 5kg of heroin. He was originally sentenced to life in prison, which was reduced to 20 years by the High Court, then changed to death by the Supreme Court on appeal by prosecutors.

Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, 49, Nigeria, arrested in 2003 on arrival at Jakarta airport from Pakistan with 1.2kg of heroin.

Okwudili Oyatanze, 45, Nigeria, arrested in 2001 on arrival at Jakarta airport from Pakistan with about 2.5kg of heroin.

Zainal Abidin bin Mahmud Badarudin, 50, Indonesia, arrested at his home in 2000 with about 59kg of marijuana.

Rodrigo Gularte, 42, Brazil, arrested in 2004 on arrival at Jakarta airport with about 6kg of cocaine hidden in several surfboards.

Myuran Sukumaran, 34, and Andrew Chan, 31, Australia, arrested in 2005 for attempting to smuggle more than 8kg of heroin to Australia as part of a group dubbed the Bali Nine.

In an unprecedented move, Australia recalled its ambassador to Jakarta on Wednesday, after its unsuccessful appeal for a stay of execution, so that claims of corruption during the trials of two Australian prisoners could be investigated.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the relationship with Jakarta "has suffered".

"These executions are both cruel and unnecessary. Cruel because both Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran spent some decade in jail before being executed, and unnecessary because both of these young Australians were fully rehabilitated while in prison," Abbott told reporters in Canberra.

"We respect Indonesia's sovereignty but we do deplore what's been done and this cannot be simply business as usual.

"Whatever people think of the death penalty, whatever people think of drug crime, the fact is that these two families have suffered an appalling tragedy."

Meanwhile, the execution of a ninth drug convict, Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, was postponed at the last minute on Tuesday night after someone suspected of recruiting her surrendered to police in the Philippines, the attorney general's spokesman told the Reuters news agency.

Bali Nine traffickers

Chan and Sukumaran were the Australian ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine heroin trafficking group who were arrested at the main airport on the holiday island in April 2005 for trying to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin to Australia.

The seven other members of the Bali Nine, all Australians, were jailed in Indonesia and did not face the death penalty.

The families of the Australian convicts had paid an anguished final visit to their loved ones earlier on Tuesday, wailing in grief as ambulances carrying empty white coffins arrived at the prison.

Amnesty International condemned the executions saying they showed a "complete disregard for due process and human rights safeguards."

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

 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies