Australia

Bali Nine: Families visit Chan and Sukumaran on prison island

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Media captionRelatives Chinthu Sukumaran and Michael Chan visited the island on Monday

The relatives of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are visiting them for the first time on the Indonesian prison island where they are to be executed.

The fate of the men, who were ringleaders of the "Bali Nine" drug-smuggling gang, will be decided by a final appeal this Thursday.

They were moved to Nusakambangan prison last week to face a firing squad.

They were arrested in 2005 attempting to smuggle heroin out of Bali.

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Media captionAustralian Prime Minister Tony Abbott: "We deplore the death penalty"

Chan's mother Helen and brother Michael, who visited him regularly when he was in prison in Bali, have travelled to Nusakambangan along with Sukumaran's parents Sam and Raji, and other relatives as well as Australian consular staff.

Michael Chan told reporters before leaving the island that they were looking forward to seeing his brother.

"When we get over there, we'll give him a hug," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

Sukumaran's brother, Chinthu, said they had been "counting down the days" until the visit.

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Media captionThe BBC looks at the prison which has been called "the Alcatraz of Indonesia", where condemned prisoners are executed by firing squad

"We've been told he's doing well, so we just want to see him for ourselves, just to make sure, and let him know that we love him," he told AFP news agency.

Final appeal

Speaking on Monday morning, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Australian government was "continuing to do what we can", but added he was "not in the business of peddling false hope".

"I'm in the business of assuring the Australian people that your government is doing everything we can to stand up for our best values and our best interests," he said.

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Image caption The families took a boat to Nusakamabangan on Monday
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were arrested in 2005

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who strongly supports the death penalty for drug dealers, has refused to grant Chan and Sukumaran a presidential pardon.

An appeal last month to overturn his decision was rejected. In a last-ditch attempt to avoid the death penalty, lawyers for Chan and Sukumaran will go to court on Thursday to appeal against that rejection.

"The next hearing on Thursday will be the response from the president's team about our challenge," one of their lawyers, Doly James, told AFP.

"The reason for the rejection of clemency was unclear, when we had been very clear why these two deserved clemency," he said.

Speaking to broadcaster al-Jazeera on Saturday, Mr Widodo suggested that Indonesia might abolish the death penalty in future.

"The constitution and existing laws still allow (the death penalty) but in the future if it is necessary to change it and the people really want it, why not?" he said.

Ms Bishop last week offered to repatriate three Indonesian drug convicts in return for Chan and Sukumaran - but this was rejected.

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