Indonesia Rejects Australian Proposal of Prisoner Swap for Death Row Pair
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Indonesia rejected on Thursday an Australian proposal for a prisoner swap made in an 11th hour effort to save the lives of two Australian drug smugglers expected to face a firing squad within days.
The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ramped up diplomatic tension between Australia and Indonesia after repeated pleas for mercy on their behalf. They are among a group of up to 11 convicts, mostly foreigners, due to be executed on the prison island of Nusakambangan.
Indonesia's foreign ministry said there was no legal basis for Indonesia to act on the proposal that had been made by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
"Basically Indonesia does not have any regulation or legal framework regarding a prisoner swap," said Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir. "This idea was put forward to our minister two days ago and we told them then."
A spokeswoman for Australia's Bishop said: "We have not had confirmation of that from our end yet."
Also facing execution are citizens of France, Brazil, the Philippines, Ghana and Nigeria, as well as Indonesia, Reuters reported.
Australian politicians held a candlelight dawn vigil outside parliament house in support of the men early on Thursday, when Bishop said she had spoken to Indonesia's foreign minister earlier this week.
"I raised the fact that there were Indonesian prisoners in Australian jails and whether there was an opportunity for us to consider a prisoner swap, a prisoner transfer or a clemency plea in exchange for a return of prisoners," Bishop said.
"I just asked for a pause in their preparations for the execution of Mr. Sukumaran and Mr. Chan so that we could have officials explore these ideas," she told Sky News Australia.
Australia does not have the death penalty and a recent survey by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute think tank showed nearly two-thirds of the public disapproved of the executions.
Sukumaran and Chan were transferred from Bali's Kerobokan Prison on Wednesday to Nusakambangan, which lies off Java.