CANBERRA – Australia has offered to pay the costs of life sentences in jail for two of its citizens currently on death row for drug smuggling in Indonesia if they are granted clemency.
Australian pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are set to face the firing squad imminently after being arrested in 2005 for a plot to smuggle 8.3 kg heroin from Bali to Australia, Xinhua news agency reports.
While the government’s ongoing attempts at sparing their lives have so far fallen on deaf ears, with the pair recently transferred to Nusakambangan Island where they will be executed, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is not giving up hope.
In a letter penned to Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and revealed on Thursday, Bishop suggested Australia pay for the costs of offering the duo life sentences in prison instead of the death penalty.
Bishop also puts forward the proposal of a “one-off” prisoner swap, in which a group of Indonesian prisoners convicted of attempting to smuggle 390 km heroin to Australia in 1998 would be transferred in exchange for Chan and Sukumaran.
However, the proposal has been swiftly rejected by Marsudi, who reminded Australia that there was no means by which Indonesia could accept their offer.
“Let me reiterate that there is no legal basis within the Indonesian law thatwould allow for such an exchange to take place,” Marsudi said in reply.
Australia’s most senior Islamic cleric Ibrahim Abu Mohamed arrived in Indonesia on Wednesday to meet with the country’s Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Saifuddin to plead for Indonesia to show mercy to the two Australians. – Bernama