JAKARTA (AFP) - The execution of two Australian drug smugglers on death row in Indonesia has been delayed by up to one month, the vice president’s office told AFP on Friday.
Husain Abdullah, the spokesman for Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, said the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine heroin trafficking group, “will be delayed for between three weeks to a month from now due to technical reasons,” without elaborating further.
Earlier, Indonesia's attorney-general had declared that "nothing whatsoever" could stop the executions, promising the drug smugglers will face the firing squad as soon as possible.
The fate of the two prisoners has led to a tense standoff between Indonesia and Australia, with Jakarta once again accusing Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott of making threats in his bid to save the pair.
Indonesian authorities had already confirmed that Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 33, would be among the next group of prisoners on death row to be executed.
Chan and Sukumaran were given a glimmer of hope this week when their scheduled transfer from Bali to the high-security prison where they are due to be shot was postponed.
But Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo denied the executions had been delayed, insisting it will proceed "as soon as possible".
"There's basically nothing whatsoever that will hamper the implementation of this decision," he told reporters on Friday.
Prasetyo said logistical difficulties involving capacity at Nusakambangan - the notorious island prison where five inmates were executed last month - had prevented the two Australians being transferred this week as planned.
Australia had also requested that the men be granted more time with their families, he added.
Indonesia executed six drug offenders in January, including five foreigners, prompting a furious Brazil and the Netherlands - whose citizens were among those put to death - to recall their ambassadors.
Jakarta has remained tight-lipped about when the Australians' executions will take place, and which other foreign convicts will join the two condemned.
Prisoners from France, Brazil, Ghana and Nigeria have also lost their bids for presidential clemency - the final avenue of appeal for a death row convict.
Diplomatic tensions escalated this week after Abbott said Indonesia should remember the significant financial aid Australia provided in the aftermath of the devastating 2004 tsunami that killed 170,000 Indonesians.
Abbott denied the comment was threatening, but Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi on Friday suggested Jakarta felt otherwise.
"We will not respond to an emotional statement, which was a threat in nature," she said, adding she didn't think Indonesia owed Australia anything for their tsunami aid.
Marsudi also denied the delay in Chan and Sukumaran's transfer had anything to do with pressure from Australia, saying Indonesia had "never played with the deadline" around their executions.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has vowed to refuse clemency to narcotics dealers while Indonesia is facing a "drug emergency".
Some analysts speculate Widodo is taking a tough stance on the issue to appear decisive to his critics early in his presidency.
Lawyers for Chan and Sukumaran have challenged Widodo's decision to deny them clemency, and hope a hearing next Tuesday in Jakarta will result in their executions being postponed.