Update as of 5:02 a.m. EDT: Indonesia is not likely to execute foreign nationals on death row -- including two Australian citizens said to be part of a drug smuggling ring known as the Bali Nine -- in the country for another 16 days, Reuters reported. The report had earlier mentioned that the death row inmates would likely not be executed for the next 12 days.
The Indonesian foreign office on Thursday also rejected Australia’s offer to pay for the cost of imprisonment of the Australian duo who are among those awaiting execution.
"We emphasize that this is not an issue of negotiation," Armanatha Nasir, a spokesman for the Indonesian foreign office, said, according to Reuters, adding: "This is upholding the law. If a country starts to negotiate law, that is a form of violation. So I emphasize that there is no negotiation."
However, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that she did not have an official confirmation about Indonesia's decision on Australia's latest offer, after discussions with her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi. "These were preliminary discussions. I'm yet to have a response on that specific issue," Bishop said, according to Reuters.
Update as of 1:54 a.m. EDT: Indonesian officials reportedly signalled on Thursday that foreign nationals on death row in the Asian country may not be executed for at least another 12 days, Reuters reported. A decision over an appeal for clemency in the case of two Australians -- part of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling ring -- was postponed to March 19, the report added. A court also postponed a decision on a separate appeal by a French convict, to March 21.
"There has been no change of plans from the AGO (Attorney General's Office) that all executions will be all at once," attorney general spokesman Tony Spontana said, according to Reuters, adding that the sentences would not be carried out until "everything is clear."
Australia has offered to pay Indonesia prison expenses to keep the two Australian heroin traffickers, involved in the Bali Nine heroin smuggling plot, if Indonesia exempts them from death penalty. The offer follows Indonesia's decision of moving Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, to Nusakambangan, the high-security prison island, where they are to be executed.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had made the offer last week through a letter addressed to her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi. The letter also proposed to conduct a prisoner exchange, wherein Sukumaran and Chan would be exchanged for three Indonesian drug traffickers jailed in Australia, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Bishop had reportedly said that several other suggestions, aimed at safeguarding the lives of the two Australians, were also made to the Indonesian authorities.
"The Australian government would be prepared to cover the costs of the ongoing life imprisonment of Mr. Chan and Mr. Sukumaran should a transfer not be possible," Bishop said, according to the AP, adding: "We haven't had a specific response to that suggestion."
However, Marsudi reportedly responded through a letter, dated March 8, that President Jokowi Widodo "is of the position that such an exchange cannot be undertaken."
Bishop, in her letter, had also listed alleged corruption among the trial judges, as a reason for Indonesia to refrain from going ahead with the executions. She had said, according to the West Australian: "There are compelling grounds for a permanent stay of execution, given the irreversibility of capital punishment," adding: "A Judicial Commission has invited Mr Chan, Mr Sukumaran and their original lawyer to make statements in a matter relating to alleged corruption of the trial judges."
"These are serious allegations and I request that your government accord due legal process and institute a pause in the execution preparations until these two important processes have been completed," Bishop reportedly wrote in the letter.
Following this, a senior Indonesian official warned Australia on Tuesday to reduce its criticism of the executions and to be grateful to the country for keeping asylum seekers away from Australian shores. Tedjo Edy Purdjianto, Indonesia's minister for political, legal and security affairs, reportedly said at a seminar that if about 10,000 migrants were not stopped in Indonesia and were allowed to continue to Australia "it will be like a human tsunami."
Chan and Sukumaran were leaders of the drug smuggling Bali Nine group and were arrested in 2005 after a tip off from the Australian police. The two were trying to smuggle over 18 pounds of heroin from Bali to Sydney. While the rest of the group members were given jail terms, the duo is among the nine other convicts, not related to Bali Nine, who are soon to be executed on Nusakambangan Island.