Australia not giving up on Bali Nine pair on Indonesia death row: FM Julie Bishop

Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan (left) and Myuran Sukumaran (right), the ringleaders of the "Bali Nine" drug ring, are seen in a holding cell while awaiting court trial in Denpasar, on Bali island on Feb 14, 2006. -- PHOTO: AFP
Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan (left) and Myuran Sukumaran (right), the ringleaders of the "Bali Nine" drug ring, are seen in a holding cell while awaiting court trial in Denpasar, on Bali island on Feb 14, 2006. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia will continue to plead for the lives of two men on death row in Indonesia, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Friday, vowing not to give up hope that their executions could be stayed.

Lawyers for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who face death by firing squad, have admitted the outlook is bleak after they lost a legal bid to have their cases reviewed on Wednesday.

"We are continuing to make representations at the highest level," Bishop told reporters. "We are continuing to ask for people who have influence and contacts within the Indonesian government to make contact now and to make those representations."

Chan and Sukumaran, both in their early 30s, were arrested in 2005 on the holiday island of Bali and sentenced to death the following year for attempting to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.

The pair, considered the ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" drug smuggling gang who were all arrested in Indonesia, argue they have rehabilitated themselves in their decade in prison and begged for their sentences to be commuted.

But Indonesian authorities are pushing ahead with the planned executions, which a foreign ministry spokesman said would be carried out this month, without giving an exact date.

Jakarta informed the Australian embassy on Thursday that "the execution of the two Australians, whose clemency was rejected, will be conducted in February," ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told AFP.

Indonesian officials have said they plan to execute the Australians, as well as several other foreigners on death row, on Nusakambangan Island, which is off the main island of Java and home to a high-security prison.

Jakarta last month executed six drug offenders, including five foreigners, with President Joko Widodo a vocal supporter of capital punishment for drug offenders.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday his government had "left no stone unturned" in the bid to save the pair.

"We oppose the death penalty, we do whatever we humanly can to try to ensure that no Australian suffers the death penalty," he told reporters.

Bishop said she had spoken to her Indonesian counterpart repeatedly on the issue and Jakarta was in no doubt about Australia's objection to the death penalty.

"I respect the Indonesian legal system, I understand that drug trafficking attracts the death penalty in Indonesia and I have respect for their judicial system," she said.

"But Australian citizens are on death row and will be executed by another government unless we can seek a stay. That's what I'm determined to do." Bishop said representations to the Indonesian government would continue.

"So we don't give up hope. We persist, we continue to persist," she said.