JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia brushed aside last-minute appeals by foreign leaders and executed by firing squad six people, including five foreigners, convicted of drug trafficking, sending a message that the new government will not compromise its tough approach to narcotics.
Four men from Brazil, Malawi, Nigeria and the Netherlands and an Indonesian woman were shot to death simultaneously in pairs just after midnight Saturday, several kilometers (miles) from a high security prison on Nusakambangan island. The other woman from Vietnam was executed in Boyolali, according to Attorney General Office's spokesman Tony Spontana. Both areas are in Central Java province.
Their bodies were brought from the island by ambulances early Sunday either for burial or cremation, as requested by relatives and representatives of their embassies.
President Joko Widodo in December rejected their clemency requests. He also refused a last-minute appeal by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the Dutch government to spare their countrymen — Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, 53, and Ang Kiem Soe, 52, who was born in Papua but whose nationality is Dutch.
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said in a statement late Saturday he had temporarily recalled the country's ambassador to Indonesia and summoned Indonesia's representative in The Hague to protest Ang's execution. He said it was carried out despite King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte personally contacting Widodo.
He called the execution "a cruel and inhumane punishment ... an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity."
Amnesty International said the first executions under the new president, who took office in November, were "a retrograde step" for human rights.
Indonesia's Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo has said there is no excuse for drug dealers and, "hopefully, this will have a deterrent effect."
Prasetyo said the new government had a firm commitment to fight against drugs. Widodo has said he would not grant clemency to 64 drug convicts on death row.
"What we do is merely aimed at protecting our nation from the danger of drugs," Prasetyo told reporters Thursday. He said figures from the National Anti-Narcotic Agency showed 40 to 50 people die each day from drugs in Indonesia.
He said that drug trafficking rings have spread to many places, including remote villages where most victims are youngsters of productive age. Indonesia has become the largest drug market in Southeast Asia with 45 percent of the region's drugs in circulation.
A second batch of executions would be held later this year and also target drug smugglers, he warned.
Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of 250 million people, has extremely strict drug laws and often executes smugglers. More than 138 people are on death row, mostly for drug crimes. About a third of them are foreigners.
Brazilian Moreira was arrested in 2003, after police at Jakarta airport found 13.4 kilograms (29.5 pounds) of cocaine hidden in his hang glider. A second Brazilian national, Rodrigo Muxfeldt Gularte, remains on death row in Indonesia, also convicted of drug trafficking.
Ang was arrested near Jakarta in 2003, after police found equipment which they estimated had been producing 15,000 ecstasy pills a day for three years. Police confiscated 8,000 pills and thousands of dollars.
The others who were executed were Namaona Denis, 48, from Malawi; Daniel Enemuo, 38, from Nigeria, and Indonesian Rani Andriani.
Tran Bich Hanh of Vietnam asked authorities to let her face the firing squad uncuffed as one of her last wishes, Spontana said.
Associated Press writer Mike Corder in The Hague contributed to this report.