Indonesian President Joko Widodo will consult with the country’s attorney general to discuss the case of death row convict Mary Jane Veloso. The Filipino woman is a member of the Bali Nine drug smuggling ring, and is among 10 people expected to be executed sometime after Tuesday evening.
Widodo's move will follow his country's announcement on Saturday of a formal 72-hour notice -- to families and governments of those on death row. The group of 10 people includes two Australians -- Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran -- leaders of the Bali Nine group. The group, which also included four Nigerian nationals, a French national, a Brazilian and an Indonesian, were arrested in 2005 for trying to smuggle 18 pounds of heroin from Indonesia to Australia.
Philippines President Benigno Aquino met with Widodo at the ongoing ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur, and asked for "humanitarian consideration" in Veloso’s case, Reuters reported, citing Aquino's spokesman. In April, Veloso also had written a letter to Widodo, pleading for a pardon. The spokesman added that Widodo was sympathetic and would discuss the matter with his attorney general on the legality of a pardon.
"President Widodo promised to resume the conversation with President Aquino later today," the spokesman said, according to Reuters.
However, Indonesia has repeatedly rejected the requests of the Australian government to pardon Chan and Sukumaran, straining ties between the two countries. Australia is also considering recalling its ambassador to Indonesia, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that she had spoken to her Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, in yet another effort to save their lives. Bishop argued that the two men, who could face the firing squad anytime after Tuesday evening, should not be executed because of legal issues with the case.
“I should point out that Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran's lawyers are pursuing action before the Constitutional Court in Indonesia and there's also a separate investigation underway by the Indonesian Judicial Commission into claims of corruption into the original trial and both of these processes raise questions about the integrity of the sentencing and the clemency process,” Bishop told ABC Radio, adding: “I've asked foreign minister (Retno) Marsudi that no action be taken in relation to the proposed executions until these legal processes have been determined.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott also wrote to Widodo requesting clemency, the Guardian reported.
“I want to reassure Australians that even at this late hour, we are continuing to make the strongest possible representations to the Indonesian government,” Abbott reportedly wrote, adding: “This is not in the best interests of Indonesia, let alone in the interests of the young Australians concerned.”
Meanwhile, a report from Fairfax media said that Muhammad Rifan, a former lawyer for the condemned Australians, had claimed that judges handling the case had asked for over $137,000 in return for sentencing Sukumaran and Chan to less than 20 years in prison. The other members of the Bali Nine group are currently serving either a life sentence or 20 years in prison, BBC reported.
The Indonesian government has also been pressured by the United Nations to drop its plans to execute the prisoners, but Widodo, who has called drug abuse a “national emergency,” has so far refused to accept the pleas of various governments as well as rights organizations, the Guardian reported.