Australia pleads for mercy for Bali death row duo

Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan (left) and Myuran Sukumaran (right) are seen in a holding cell while awaiting court trial in Denpasar, on Bali island in this In this Feb 14, 2006 file photograph. Senior religious leaders in Australia on
Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan (left) and Myuran Sukumaran (right) are seen in a holding cell while awaiting court trial in Denpasar, on Bali island in this In this Feb 14, 2006 file photograph. Senior religious leaders in Australia on Sunday, Feb 8, 2015, called on Indonesia to show mercy to the two men, who are on death row, as Indonesia's top diplomat in the country said their executions would go ahead. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Senior religious leaders in Australia Sunday called on Indonesia to show mercy to two men on death row in Bali, as Indonesia's top diplomat in the country said their executions would go ahead.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran 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, members of an Australian drug-smuggling gang dubbed the "Bali Nine", recently lost their final appeals for clemency despite arguing that they had rehabilitated themselves in prison.

Indonesian authorities are pushing ahead with the planned executions, which are expected to be carried out this month.

Sydney's Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher and Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammad called on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to save the men, who are both in their early 30s.

"Our request today is for clemency or a commuted sentence for Andrew and Myuran so as to allow them to be further rehabilitated," the religious leaders said in a joint statement.

"To execute would prematurely end these lives, robbing both of them and our communities of the opportunity for ongoing repentance and rehabilitation." But Indonesia's ambassador to Australia Nadjib Riphat Kesoema told reporters in Canberra the duo's legal appeals had already reached the "highest level".

"I think all the efforts, all the legal efforts have reached the highest level now and Indonesia has notified the government of Australia that we will execute," The Australian reported him as saying Sunday.

"The relations of Indonesia and Australia are very strong and we believe this kind of happening will not bother the strong relations between the two countries."

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Friday her government would continue to plead for the lives of the two men and vowed not to give up hope that their executions could be stayed.

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