Bali 9 prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by Indonesian authorities early on Wednesday morning.
The Australian pair were put to death along with six other prisoners, all convicted for drugs trafficking, on the so-called ‘execution island’ of Nusakambangan.
Filipina inmate Mary Jane Veloso earned a last-minute reprieve when a woman claiming to be her drugs trafficking recruiter handed herself in to authorities in the Philippines.
The executions took place at around 12:30am local time. The eight prisoners were reportedly tied to wooden steaks and had crosses marked over their hearts as targets. For the firing squad – in some reports numbering 12, in others 14 – only three live bullets were issued randomly for each of the condemned, the rest loaded blanks. Some reports suggest it took over 20 minutes for the victims to be pronounced dead from what is a notoriously cruel and tortuous form of execution.
Ambulances carrying coffins were seen at the port of Cilicap across from Nusakambangan Island shortly after the executions. According to the ABC, the bodies of Chan and Sukumaran have been received by Australian authorities who are expected to arrange for their repatriation for burial.
In a joint statement issued following the executions, the Chan and Sukumaran families said:
“Today we lost Myuran and Andrew. Our sons, our brothers. In the ten years since they were arrested, they did all they could to make amends, helping many others. They asked for mercy, but there was none. They were immensely grateful for all the support they received. We too, will be forever grateful.”
On Tuesday, the distraught families paid their last visits with their condemned loved ones. Andrew Chan, brother of Andrew, described the final hours as “torture”.
“No family should go through that,” he said.
Thousands of supporters and sympathisers held vigils for the Bali 9 pair across Australia on Tuesday night, leading up to the scheduled executions. Renowned human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson addressed the crowd at Sydney’s Martin Place and suggested a last-minute stay of execution may have been possible via the UN.
“That’s something we can do, something that will create, possibly, sufficient embarrassment for Indonesia to stay its hand,” he told the vigil.
Earlier on Tuesday, On Tuesday, Australia, the European Union and France issued a joint petition asking Indonesia to “reflect on the impact” the executions would have on the country’s reputation, urging the reintroduction of a moratorium it’s death penalty law.
Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop has said every diplomatic effort was made to earn the men a reprieve and deplored the Indonesian government’s handling of the matter.
“I think the ghastly process that the family have been put through today just underscores how chaotic this has been,” she told ABC’s 7:30 on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday morning, following the media’s confirmation that the executions had been carried out, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia had recalled its ambassador to Indonesia over the matter.
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were sentenced to death in 2006 for their role as ringleaders in the so-called Bali 9 drugs trafficking syndicate which conspired to smuggle heroin for Indonesia to Australia in 2005.
After 10 years in jail the pair were executed on 29 April 2015 despite pleas for presidential clemency, testimony of their reform in prison and allegations of corruption in their sentencing.