Fanny Octavianus / Antara Foto / Reuters

Pleas for mercy flood Indonesia’s leader

Families ask President Joko Widodo for mercy, days before relatives are set to face a firing squad for drug crimes

Australian leaders on Monday continued to lobby Indonesia to spare the lives of two Australians on death row despite 10 prisoners being given formal notice that they could die within days.

The Australians Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, are among 10 drug traffickers facing execution by an Indonesian firing squad. Sukumaran and Chan were considered ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug-smuggling group.

Authorities had asked the two Australians, the four Nigerian men, a Filipino woman, and one man each from Brazil, France and Indonesia for their last wish as well as giving them 72-hour notice of their executions, a spokesman for the Indonesian attorney general, Tony Spontana, said Sunday.

He said the legal options of nine of them have been exhausted, while Frenchman Serge Atlaoui still has an outstanding legal complaint over the procedure followed in his request for clemency. Spontana said he expects the Supreme Court to rule on it Monday.

The 72-hour notice indicates the executions by firing squad in Besi prison on Nusakambangan Island will be carried out at the earliest on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Monday that she is "profoundly dismayed" over the 72-hour notice.

Bishop says she contacted her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi on Sunday night in a bid to prevent the executions.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also written to Indonesian President Joko Widodo on their behalf.

"This is not in the best interests of Indonesia, let alone the best interests of the young Australians concerned," Abbott told reporters in France.

The Indonesian president's determination to deal harshly with drug crimes has won him popular support at home, despite criticism by rights groups and international leaders.

Widodo rebuffed questions about the pleas and warnings of diplomatic repercussions on Sunday. "I have already said repeatedly I will not discuss this again," he told reporters.

Bishop said the Australians had not yet exhausted their legal options. The pair still had an appeal before Indonesia's Constitutional Court and Indonesia's Judicial Commission was investigating claims of corruption in pair's original trial.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Widodo on Sunday to "urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia, with a view toward abolition."

The Brazilian family of Rodrigo Gularte pleaded for the cancellation of his execution on Sunday, saying he has been diagnosed with a mental illness by a local hospital.

Gularte was sentenced to death in 2005 after being arrested for attempting to smuggle 6kg of cocaine into Indonesia.

The brothers of Sukumara and Chan appealed on Sunday to Widodo for mercy, and keeping up the diplomatic pressure, Philippine President Benigno Aquino told reporters he planned to appeal to Widodo during a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders inKuala Lumpur to spare Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, a mother of two.

Veloso, who says she was wrongly convicted after being set up by a recruitment agency, handed Philippine government officials who visited her on Sunday handwritten letters insisting that she was innocent.

Wire services

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