Indonesian President Joko Widodo rules out reprieve for 2 Australians on death row

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo has indicated two Australians convicted of drug offences will not receive a reprieve from execution, a refusal to pardon that is likely to strain already fragile ties between the two neighbours.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has personally asked for clemency for the two members of the so-called Bali Nine, who were arrested at Bali's Denpasar airport in 2005 for attempting to smuggle 8kg of heroin to Australia.

But Mr Joko, who took office in October, pledged to continue Indonesia's hardline approach to drug traffickers, which saw executions resume in 2013 after a five-year gap. "Imagine every day we have 50 people die because of narcotics, in one year it's 18,000 people because of narcotics," he told CNN. "We are not going to compromise for drug dealers. No compromise, no compromise."

Mr Joko said the decision rested with the courts. "They can ask for amnesty to the president but I tell you there will be no amnesty for drug dealers," he said.

He was asked: "So no relief for the Australians?"

He responded by shaking his head.

It was not immediately clear when the executions might take place.

Mr Abbott had said Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, were reformed characters who had assisted others in prison as he stressed Australia's opposition to the death penalty.

Indonesia's resumption of the death penalty has drawn criticism from human rights activists both at home and abroad. Australia's Foreign Minister Julia Bishop said last week she would not rule out recalling her country's ambassador should the executions be carried out.

Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors from Jakarta, while Nigeria summoned the Indonesian ambassador in Abuja to protest against the execution of their citizens earlier this month.

Relations between Indonesia and Australia hit a low in late 2013 after reports that Australia had spied on top Indonesian officials, including then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife.

Indonesia froze military and intelligence cooperation with Australia before restoring relations last May.

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