Rights group says number of known executions worldwide rose with 15 percent last year, mainly due to Iraq and Iran.
Indonesia appears likely to press ahead with the executions of nine drug criminals on Tuesday, despite last-ditch appeals by Australia’s foreign minister for a stay of execution so that claims of corruption during the trials of the two Australian prisoners could be investigated.
The families of the Australian convicts paid an anguished final visit to their loved ones on Tuesday, wailing in grief as ambulances carrying empty white coffins arrived at their prison.
|Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen|
| Brintha Sukumaran cried her heart out when she entered on presumably her last journey to see her brother alive. Australian national Muyuran will likely be shot by a 14-member firing squad shortly after midnight. Policemen with growling dogs and an excited crowd of journalists were in between her and the prison.
Family members had to carry the devastated woman while police dogs were aiming at the feet of journalists and the Australian consul. Shortly after 12 ambulances arrived, many of them carrying coffins. All in clear sight of the grieving families. A more grim sign that their relatives would die soon the government could not have given.
This came after relatives had already been confronted with photos of crosses bearing the date of their loved ones death: April 29. Meanwhile traders seemingly undisturbed by the reason of the gathering at the port continued selling gemstones and snacks. A huge crowd of security personnel looking on. A priest who was banned from visiting his friend who is about to be executed called it a “circus and soap opera”.
Earlier in the day, she had asked for a stay in their executions, saying allegations in the Australian media that their judges had requested money to commute the death sentences were “very serious”.
The two are among nine drug convicts, mostly foreigners, who are due to be executed by a firing squad as soon as Tuesday night.
However, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that such concerns should have been conveyed a decade ago when the case went through the courts.
A former lawyer of the prisoners, Muhammad Rifan, told Australia’s Fairfax Media on Monday that Indonesian judges had requested more than $100,000 in return for prison terms of less than 20 years.
But Rifan said the judges later told him they had been ordered by senior legal and government members in Jakarta to impose a death penalty, so the deal fell through.
Arrested in Bali
The members of the Bali Nine were arrested at the main airport on the holiday island of Bali in April 2005 for trying to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin to Australia.
The Indonesian authorities had been tipped off by Australia’s Federal Police.
The seven other members of the Bali Nine, all Australians, have been jailed in Indonesia but do not face the death penalty.
The country’s attorney-general’s office said the executions of all nine people on death row would proceed this week.
“I think it will happen this week as the preparations are 100 percent ready now,” spokesman Tony Spontana said.
The prisoners were handed 72 hours’ notice of their executions on Saturday, when representatives of their countries were also advised. Indonesia usually carries out executions at midnight.
The other seven who were informed at the weekend that they would face the firing squad are four Nigerians, an Indonesian, a Brazilian and a Filipina.
Spontana said a tenth prisoner, the Frenchman Sergei Atlaoui, would be spared for now as legal proceedings were still under way.
Among the condemned is a Brazilian man, Rodrigo Gularte, who has been diagnosed by Indonesian medics with schizophrenia, a mental illness.
Gularte, 42, was arrested in 2004 at a Jakarta airport after trying to enter the country with 6kg of cocaine hidden in a surfboard.
He was also sentenced to death in 2005.
In Hong Kong, Filipino migrants ralied on behalf of Mary Jane Velose – a 30-year-old Filipina mother of two whose supporters say she was tricked into carrying a suitcase loaded with heroin.
Meanwhile, one of the Australians on death row, Andrew Chan, got married in the prison on Monday, his brother Michael Chan said after attending the wedding.
The marriage was Chan’s “final wish” granted by Indonesian prison authorities.
“Yes there was a celebration inside the prison this afternoon with close family and friends; it’s obviously a special occasion for them,” Michael said.
“Yes, look, it’s tough time but it’s happy time at the same time. We just hope that the president somewhere will find some compassion and mercy for these two, young couple so they can carry on with their lives.”
Indonesia executed six prisoners; from Brazil, Malawi, Nigeria, Vietnam, the Netherlands, and an Indonesian national, in January.