Anguished families make 'last visit' before Australia drug convicts' executions in Indonesia

CILACAP, Indonesia (AFP) - Relatives of two Australian drug smugglers on death row in Indonesia cried out in anguish as they arrived at a prison island on Tuesday, in distressing scenes as they paid what could be their final visit to the condemned men ahead of their executions.

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" heroin-trafficking gang, are among eight foreign drug convicts who are expected to face the firing squad imminently after the authorities gave them formal notice of their executions.

Jakarta has refused to confirm the execution date, although there is mounting speculation it will be carried out in the early hours of Wednesday.

Australian media has published photos of crosses that will be used for their coffins, inscribed with the date 29.04.2015, and the Australians' families have reportedly been asked to say their last goodbyes on Tuesday afternoon.

The families of Chan and Sukumaran, who have been visiting them frequently in recent days, set out early Tuesday to pay what could their final visit to the men, both aged in their early 30s.

But they were unable to control their emotion as they arrived at Cilacap, the town that serves as the gateway to Nusakambangan, with members of Sukumaran's family screaming and crying out "mercy" as they walked in a slow procession to the port.

Sukumaran's sister Brintha wailed and called out her brother's name, collapsing into the arms of family members who had to carry her.

Chan's mother was shielded by family members, but was clearly distraught as she passed waiting media.

Chan married his Indonesian girlfriend in a jailhouse ceremony with family and friends on Nusakambangan on Monday, his final wish before he faces the firing squad.

The convicts, who also include nationals from Brazil, the Philippines and Nigeria, have been gathered on the high-security prison island Nusakambangan, where Indonesia puts condemned prisoners to death.

Jakarta is determined to press ahead with the executions of eight foreigners and one Indonesian despite a wave of global condemnation led by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

Australia has mounted a vigorous campaign to save its citizens, who have been on death row for almost a decade, and on Monday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the executions should be halted until a corruption investigation into judges who presided over the case is complete.

However, President Joko Widodo, who is a vocal supporter of the death penalty for drug traffickers, dismissed the request.

In Australia, celebrities including Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush released a video on Tuesday urging Prime Minister Tony Abbott to fly to Indonesia to help save the two men.

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