Australia fears worst for drug traffickers in Indonesia

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia has made a last-ditch appeal for Indonesian President Joko Widodo to spare the lives of two drug traffickers facing execution, but Foreign Minister Julie Bishop admitted she was fearing the worst.

Indonesia has advised consular officials to head to Nusakambangan, the high-security prison island where its executions are carried out and where nine foreign drug convicts have been taken.

They include two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, ringleaders of the "Bali Nine" heroin trafficking gang.

Jakarta must give 72-hour notice of execution and Bishop said that with the diplomats being summoned, "I fear the worst".

"I fear that Indonesia will seek to proceed with the execution of the two Australian citizens. I am deeply and profoundly concerned by this," she told reporters in Brussels late Friday, where she was attending NATO meetings.

Bishop said she was seeking contact with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to see if there was any opportunity for a change of heart.

"I again appeal to president Widodo to show mercy, to have a change of heart and to grant clemency to these two Australian citizens, both of whom have been rehabilitated," she said.

"He is the leader of a great nation, a dear and close friend of Australia. We ask that he take into account our considerations."

The government in Jakarta has said an exact date for the executions has not been decided yet, as a judicial review is still pending for the sole Indonesian in the group of 10, who face death by firing squad.

The foreigners also include one each from Brazil, France and the Philippines, and four from Africa. All have lost appeals for clemency from Widodo, who argues that Indonesia is fighting a drugs emergency.

Bishop said she had discussed the matter with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and he shared her concern.

"I have met with the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, and he likewise expressed his deep dismay at the prospect of a French citizen being put to death in Indonesia at this time," she said.

Australia has long lobbied for Sukumaran and Chan to be spared, but all previous appeals have failed.

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said every effort had been made to save the men.

"We have sought to lobby directly, leader to leader. Ordinary Australians have made their views known to ordinary Indonesians," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"There's been an enormous effort by Australians to make it clear to the Indonesian government that this is a process we find abhorrent and we'll continue to do that." Sukumaran and Chan, who have exhausted their legal appeals, were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.

Family members are reportedly rushing to Indonesia for what could be their final goodbyes.

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