February 13, 2015 / 11:43 PM / 5 years ago

U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

Australian Andrew Chan (L) and Myuran Sukumaran wait in a temporary cell for their appeal hearing in Denpasar District Court in Indonesia's resort island of Bali September 21, 2010. REUTERS/Murdani Usman

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to Indonesia on Friday not to execute prisoners on death row for drug crimes, including citizens of Australia, Brazil, France, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria and the Philippines.

Indonesia has harsh penalties for drug trafficking and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap. Five foreigners were among six people executed last month, the first executions since President Joko Widodo took office in October.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban had spoken with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Thursday “to express his concern at the recent application of capital punishment in Indonesia.”

“The United Nations opposes the death penalty under all circumstances,” Dujarric said in a statement on Friday. “The Secretary-General appeals to the Indonesian authorities that the executions of the remaining prisoners on death row for drug-related offenses not be carried out.”

Indonesia’s Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo said earlier this month that two Australians - Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31 - are among eight prisoners due to be executed after Widodo rejected their clemency pleas in January.

Nationals of Brazil, Malawi, the Netherlands, Nigeria and Vietnam were executed by firing squad in January.

The case of the two Australian men threatens to strain already fragile relations between Australia and Indonesia. The pair were members of the so-called Bali who were Nine, arrested at Bali’s Denpasar airport in 2005 and convicted of attempting to smuggle some 18 lb (8 kg) of heroin.

Australia is pursuing a last-ditch deal with Indonesia to save its citizens, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Thursday. She said last month she would not rule out recalling Australia’s envoy if the executions went ahead.

Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors in Indonesia, and Nigeria summoned Indonesia’s ambassador in Abuja, after last month’s executions.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols. Editing by Andre Grenon

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