Over 1,000 attend Sydney funeral for executed Australian drug smuggler Andrew Chan

A mourner placing a floral wreath at the funeral service of Andrew Chan in Sydney, Australia, on May 8, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
A mourner placing a floral wreath at the funeral service of Andrew Chan in Sydney, Australia, on May 8, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA

SYDNEY (AFP) - More than 1,000 people mourned executed Australian drug smuggler Andrew Chan at his funeral in Sydney on Friday, with his brother saying he should have been given a second chance during an emotional tribute.

Chan - who converted to Christianity and became a pastor during his decade in jail - faced an Indonesian firing squad late last month with fellow Australian Myuran Sukumaran and six other prisoners despite pleas for mercy from Canberra saying that they had been rehabilitated. Both men were sentenced to death in 2006 over their role as ringleaders of a plot to bring heroin into Australia from the Indonesian island of Bali, and their execution has strained bilateral ties.

Chan's older brother Michael told the "celebration service" at an enormous Pentecostal Hillsong Church he had "undeniably touched many people's lives over the last 10 years". "People make mistakes in life and deserve a second chance," he said, his voice wavering as he fought back tears. "He showed us all that even when we have such a heavy burden hanging over our head, we can still change into a better human being. Andrew, you used to say you look up to me, and now little brother, I look up to you."

The service was also attended by supporters, Chan's parents Ken and Helen, other relatives and Sukumaran's family, who are due to mark his death at a separate funeral in Sydney on Saturday.

Salvation Army minister David Soper, Chan's spiritual adviser, said he was with the 31-year-old in the moments before his death and the young man was prepared for his execution.

"I was overwhelmed by my love of him, and devastated by the tragic loss," Mr Soper said.

"Andrew knew the truth, he was prepared to meet his maker. I saw great courage and strength... I will never, never forget."

Ms Febyanti Herewila, an Indonesian pastor who married Chan in the days before he was killed, was due to read an excerpt from the final letter he wrote to her.

The executions cast a shadow over Australia's relationship with its Southeast Asian neighbour, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott recalling his ambassador to Indonesia in protest.