This content is not available in your region

Richard Branson appeals to Indonesia to revoke death sentence for Bali 9 pair

Access to the comments Comments
By Sarah Taylor  with AP, Reuters, GCDP
Richard Branson appeals to Indonesia to revoke death sentence for Bali 9 pair

The families of two Australian drug smugglers have made what could be one of their final visits to the men.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were transferred to Nusakambangan Island on March 4, 2015 after spending nearly ten years in jails elsewhere in Indonesia.

Nicknamed ‘Indonesia’s Alcatraz’, few prisoners leave the island alive.

Final appeal

For death row inmates Chan and Sukumaran, all hangs on one final appeal hearing, scheduled for Thursday, March 12.

Sukumaran’s brother, Chinthu, made a last-ditch plea for clemency.

“Our family remain hopeful that the president will get to see how much Myuran and Andrew have done inside the prison to help the Indonesian people, and that he will show mercy on our family,” he told the press. “We’re grateful to the Indonesian justice system for this and all we ask is that they be allowed to spend the rest of their lives in prison and not be executed. Thank you.”

High-profile plea

Billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson has also petitioned for their sentences to be commuted.

The Briton is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. In a letter to Indonesian president Joko Widodo, he proposed other solutions for rehabilitating drug offenders, which he also underlined in a television interview.

“Treating drugs as a health issue, not as a criminal issue, it actually helps lower the number of drug deaths,” he said. “It limits the spread of infectious diseases like HIV and AIDS, or hepatitis C, and it reduces drug-related crime. And it allows people who struggle with addiction to become useful members of society again.”

The Bali 9

In 2005, a tip-off from Australian police led to Chan and Sukumaran being caught trying to take 8.3 kilos of heroin from Indonesia to Australia. They admitted to being the leaders of a drug smuggling ring known as the ‘Bali 9’ and were sentenced to death in 2006.

The other six men and one woman are serving between 20 years and life in prison. Some of them successfully appealed to have their original death sentences commuted.

Australian authorities’ pleas for similar reductions in sentences for Chan and Sukumaran have proved futile.