JAKARTA (AFP) -Lawyers fighting to save two Australian drug smugglers from the firing squad in Indonesia on Wednesday lodged a rare legal challenge to the president’s decision to reject the men’s appeals for clemency.
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, ringleaders of the so-called ‘Bali Nine’ drug smuggling gang, were arrested in 2005 and sentenced to death the following year after being caught trying to traffick heroin out of Indonesia.
The pair recently lost their final appeals to Indonesian President Joko Widodo for clemency despite arguing that they had rehabilitated themselves in prison.
Indonesian authorities are pushing ahead with the planned executions, which are expected to be carried out this month.
But their lawyers registered one final legal bid in a Jakarta adminis-trative court, taking the unusual step of challenging Widodo’s decision to refuse the men a pardon.
Authorities have repeatedly said the appeal for presidential clemency is a death row convict’s final chance to avoid the firing squad, but the men’s lawyers believe the latest move could at least delay the executions.
Lawyer Doly James said he hoped that if a judge granted a preliminary hearing, the executions would be postponed.
“There is no guarantee,” he told AFP, but added, “The attorney general’s office should respect the ongoing legal process.”
Indonesian authorities have already informed their Australian counterparts they intend to proceed with the executions, despite public appeals from Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Widodo has been a vocal supporter of capital punishment and warned Indonesia is in a state of emergency due to drugs, with dozens of people dying every day.
The men’s lawyers claim it is ‘unacceptable’ for the president to use blanket arguments to refuse the men clemency.
Chan and Sukumaran’s mothers travelled to Jakarta this week to plead for their son’s lives, claiming they had changed during a decade behind bars and deserved a second chance.
Indonesia last month executed six drug offenders, including five from other countries. Seven foreigners, including Chan and Sukumaran, could soon face the firing squad after recently losing their appeals for clemency.