Indonesia’s execution of eight drug offenders on Wednesday drew international condemnation and swift diplomatic retaliation from Australia, which announced the recall of its envoy to Jakarta over the “cruel and unnecessary” killings.
Along with Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, four Nigerian men, an Indonesian and a Brazilian were executed by firing squad at 12:30am, local time, on the Indonesian prison island of Nusa Kambangan.
The deaths of Chan and Sukumaran, convicted for their part in the so-called Bali Nine plot to export 8.3kg of heroin from Indonesia into Australia, came despite years of high-profile campaigns and high-level representations by Australian
The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, announced the recall of ambassador Paul Grigson from Jakarta on Wednesday morning.
“These executions are both cruel and unnecessary; cruel because both Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran spent some decade in jail before being executed, and unnecessary, because both of these young Australians were fully rehabilitated while in prison,” the prime minister said.
Ministerial contacts between the two countries had been suspended “and they will remain suspended for a period”, Abbott said.
“This is a dark moment in the relationship [but] I am confident that the relationship will be restored.”
Indonesia’s attorney general, HM Prasetyo, said the withdrawal of the ambassador would be only “momentary”.
“The Netherlands have done the same thing in the past. Brazil has done the same thing,” he said. “I think this is just a momentary reaction, and this will be settled within the diplomatic sphere. What we are doing is carrying out the court decision. Every case should have an end.”
Nigerians Raheem Agbaje Salami (also known as Jamiu Owolabi Abashin), Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Martin Anderson and Okwuduli Oyatanze were also executed on Wednesday morning, along with Indonesian Zainal Abidin.
Veloso was temporarily spared after the woman she claims recruited her as an unknowing drug courier handed herself into Philippines police on Tuesday, hours before Veloso was scheduled to die.
“That was why, in the end, we decided to respect the legal process going on in the Philippines, postponing the execution,” he said.
Details emerged of the final moments of the eight prisoners, who declined to be blindfolded and reportedly sang hymns including Amazing Grace as their executions loomed.
The Brazilian government expressed its “deep sadness” at the execution of one of its citizens, 42-year-old Rodrigo Gularte, which it called a “serious event” in bilateral relations.
Gularte, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was caught at Jakarta airport in 2004 with 6kg of cocaine hidden in a cavity in his surfboard.
He is the second Brazilian to be executed in Indonesia this year. In January, Marco Moreira was also shot by a firing squad after being convicted of drug trafficking.
The earlier execution prompted a diplomatic crisis. The Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, said she was “appalled and outraged” by what happened, recalled the country’s ambassador in Jakarta for consultations and refused to accept the credentials of the new Indonesian ambassador in Brasilia.
The bodies of Chan and Sukumaran arrived at a funeral home in West Jakarta on Wednesday afternoon, local time, and will be flown to Australia on Friday.
In a short statement the families of the two Australians thanked supporters. “Today we lost Myuran and Andrew. Our sons, our brothers. In the 10 years since they were arrested they did all they could to make amends, helping many others. They asked for mercy, but there was none,” they said.
“They were immensely grateful for all the support they received. We too, will be forever grateful.”
The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, has announced his intention to clear the country’s death row of drug traffickers, insisting that narcotics are “a national emergency” that require an unforgiving response.
More than 30 foreigners are estimated to be on death row in Indonesia, but plans for a third round of executions have yet to be announced.