CILACAP • Indonesia rejected appeals from the United Nations and the European Union to halt the execution of 14 drug convicts, including foreigners, as speculation mounted that their sentences were about to be carried out.
The group, including citizens from Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe as well as Indonesians, were in isolation on a prison island where Jakarta carries out executions, and were expected to face a firing squad at midnight last night.
The authorities stepped up preparations with ambulances carrying coffins seen crossing over to Nusakambangan island. Family members say they had been told the convicts were to be executed last night, according to a lawyer and diplomat - who were angry as it was earlier than they thought was allowed.
TARGETING DRUG TRAFFICKERS
I need to emphasise that all the legal processes of the convicts have been completed, all their rights have been fulfilled - we target the drug traffickers and not users.
INDONESIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN ARRMANATHA NASIR, defending the looming executions as "pure law enforcement".
Attorney-General M. Prasetyo said the executions would be conducted early today and that all technical and legal aspects of the executions had been fulfilled.
Indonesia last carried out executions in April last year when it put to death eight drug convicts, including two Australians, sparking international outrage.
But President Joko Widodo has defended the use of the death penalty to combat rising narcotics use.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Wednesday called on Indonesia to end the "unjust" use of the death penalty, while the EU urged Jakarta to stop the "cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent".
Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir defended the looming executions as "pure law enforcement".
"I need to emphasise that all the legal processes of the convicts have been completed, all their rights have been fulfilled - we target the drug traffickers and not users," he said.
Jakarta faced accusations of breaking its own laws by apparently planning to hold the executions last night.
Diplomats and lawyers say they were given the legally required three days' notice of the plan on Tuesday afternoon and believed the earliest it could happen was today.
"I am very concerned - this cannot happen," said Mr Ricky Gunawan, a lawyer for a Nigerian convict set to face the firing squad.
"It is clearly against the law. This execution has been completely under secrecy from the start."
Four citizens from Indonesia and 10 others from Nigeria, India, South Africa, Pakistan and Zimbabwe would be executed, said lawyers from the Jakarta-based Community Legal Aid Institute, who visited some inmates this week.
Mr Syed Zahid Raza, deputy Pakistani ambassador in Jakarta, said the family of a Pakistani man, Zulfiqar Ali, had been informed he would be executed last night.
Mr Nasir said that the Foreign Ministry had fulfilled all its obligations by notifying foreign representatives.
But Amnesty International outlined on Wednesday "systematic flaws" in the trials of several of the death-row inmates, and warned that the executions could not proceed while appeals for clemency were pending.
A candlelit vigil was held outside the presidential palace in Jakarta last night.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK