Executions necessary in war on drugs: Indonesia
INDONESIA yesterday staunchly defended its execution of seven foreigners, including two Australians, as an "unpleasant" thing to do but a vital front of its "war" on drugs.
"We are fighting a war against horrible drug crimes that threaten our nation's survival," Indonesian Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo told reporters yesterday in Cilacap - the gateway to the prison island of Nusakambangan - following the executions that were carried out about 35 minutes after midnight.
"I would like to say that an execution is not a pleasant thing. It is not a fun job," Mr Prasetyo pointed out.
"But we must do it in order to save the nation from the danger of drugs. We are not making enemies of countries from where those executed came. What we are fighting against is drug-related crimes."
Mr Prasetyo also played down Australia's decision to recall its ambassador in protest over the executions, describing it as a "temporary reaction".
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stressed Jakarta's desire to "continue having good relations" with one of its most important trading partners.
The seven foreign convicts - who included one from Brazil and four from Africa - were shot by firing squad, along with one Indonesian, despite strident foreign appeals and pleas from family members.
The condemned men reportedly all refused blindfolds and sang hymns, as they went to face the firing squad in the jungle clearing, according to a pastor who was with them.
As the clock ticked down to midnight, a group of tearful supporters also sang hymns, embraced and held candles aloft during a vigil at the port in Cilacap.
A Filipina originally set to be executed was given an 11th hour reprieve after a woman who allegedly duped her into ferrying drugs to Indonesia came forward to the police in the Philippines.
The reprieve for Mary Jane Veloso was hailed in the Philippines as a miracle and a gift from God, but Mr Prasetyo stressed it was only a "postponement" to allow time for police investigations.
Australia had mounted a sustained campaign to save its citizens, who had been on death row for almost a decade, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the executions were "both cruel and unnecessary".
Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" heroin trafficking gang, were described by Canberra as reformed men after years in prison.
The bodies of Chan and Sukumaran, in plain wooden coffins, arrived in Jakarta after being moved from Cilacap in two ambulances.
They were taken to a funeral home and will soon be flown back to Australia for burial.
Australia and Brazil oppose capital punishment and have railed against Indonesian President Joko Widodo's move to step up the pace of executions, after a five-year moratorium, since coming to office last October.
Mr Joko retorted that Indonesia is facing an emergency due to rising drug use, citing figures from the national anti-narcotics agency showing that more than 30 Indonesians die every day due to drugs.
His steadfastness on the executions reportedly has strong public support at home.