The minister who will advise Indonesia’s new president on whether to grant clemency to two Australians says he’s personally against the death penalty.
November 7, 2014 – 4:26AM | Gabrielle Dunlevy
Jakarta: The minister who will advise Indonesia’s new president on whether to grant clemency to two Australians says he’s personally against the death penalty.
Indonesia’s former president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, failed to sign a decree commuting the death sentences of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran before leaving office last month.
There were hopes he would rescue the pair, members of the so-called Bali Nine, because of the special attention he gave to relations with Australia.
Handover: Incoming Indonesian President Joko Widodo and outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Now Chan and Sukumaran’s fate rests with the new president, Joko Widodo, with advice from his new ministers, who were appointed late last month.
Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly says he hasn’t yet turned his attention to the clemency cases left unsigned by Dr Yudhoyono.
On drug crimes generally, the new minister says he agrees with Indonesia’s move towards rehabilitation programs rather than jail for drug users, but not traffickers.
But he also doesn’t personally agree with capital punishment.
“I have a dilemma with this,” he said in Jakarta.
“If it’s the court’s decision, what can we do?
“I’m among those who think of the death penalty differently.
“That’s my principle.
“I’m not a supporter of the death penalty.”
While this was his view, Mr Yasonna said he wasn’t “pushing it”, as he respected the sentences handed down by the courts.
He is among a number of officials Mr Joko can call on to advise on clemency cases.
Also available to the president is a letter from the former governor of the Bali prison where Chan and Sukumaran are jailed, which recommends their sentences be commuted to life.
Lawyer for the pair, Julian McMahon, says they have used their time in jail productively, helping rehabilitate and re-train other prisoners.
Chan, 30, and Sukumaran, 33, were among nine young Australians convicted over a 2005 heroin trafficking plot.