Australian Smugglers Sentenced to Death

Two Australians were sentenced Tuesday to death by firing squad for leading a drug smuggling ring on Indonesia's resort island of Bali, verdicts that could strain ties between the countries.

Andrew Chan, 22, and Myuran Sukumaran, 24 — who masterminded the trafficking of 18 pounds of heroin to their homeland — showed little emotion as their verdicts were read in a packed courtroom.

Four other members of the so-called "Bali Nine," all of them Australian, have been given life sentences. The sentences for the final three were expected Wednesday.

Indonesian anti-drug campaigners cheered after the death sentences were read out for Chan and, in a separate trial, for Sukumaran.

Family members in the public gallery broke down in tears.

The verdicts were broadcast live in Australia, where recent drug trials involving citizens in Indonesia have triggered intense public interest.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, whose government opposes capital punishment, said the sentences were predictable given the "weight of the evidence."

Some members of the ring were arrested at Bali's airport with heroin taped to their bodies, while others were in a hotel room purportedly plotting another shipment.

"I feel desperately sorry for the parents of these people, I do," Howard told reporters in Canberra.

"But the warnings have been there for decades, and how on Earth any young Australian can be so stupid as to take the risk is completely beyond me."

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, under pressure to crack down on illegal drugs in the world's most populous Muslim nation, said he hoped the verdicts would serve as an example.

Judge Arief Supartman said a panel of three judges at the Denpasar District Court found Chan guilty of "exporting heroin in an organized ring," and accused him of "damaging Bali's international reputation."

He also criticized Chan for showing no remorse.

Later, judges found Sukumaran guilty of involvement in an organized drug ring and said he, too, would face a firing squad.

"There is no reason to justify the actions of the defendant," said Judge I Gusti Lanang Dauh.

Police escorted the two out of the courtroom in handcuffs, pushing them past hundreds of reporters and television crews and into a prison van.

Four of the "Bali Nine" drug mules — Michael Czugaj, 20; Martin Stephens, 29; Renae Lawrence, 28; and Scott Rush, 20, — were sentenced to life in prison in separate trials on Monday and Tuesday.

All nine have the right to appeal, a process that could take years, or seek a presidential pardon, which would require an admission of guilt.

Indonesia's prisons are full of foreigners, many of them on death row for drug offenses.

The country has executed at least five people since 2000 for various crimes.