- April 26, 2015 – 11:27PM
Indonesia correspondent for Fairfax
Myuran Sukumaran has painted what could be his last self-portrait: a torso with a palm-sized black hole over the heart dripping with blood.
The eerie painting, brought back from Nusakambangan by their lawyer Julian McMahon, is a portent of Bali nine pair’s ghastly fate – death by firing squad.
Michael Chan and Chinthu Sukumaran, brothers of the two Australians facing execution, give a press conference at Wijaya Pura, Cilacap. Photo: James Brickwood
Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were officially given 72 hours warning of their executions on Saturday.
Chinthu Sukumaran said his brother’s last wish was to paint for as long as possible. Chan’s was to go to church with his family in his final days.
The Indonesian government has not officially announced the execution date but the men are bracing for Tuesday night – the earliest it could be held.
The government had previously said it was waiting on the outcome of Indonesian marijuana trafficker Zainal Abidin’s court case before setting a date.
However on Sunday Attorney General spokesman Tony Spontana told Fairfax Media the Supreme Court had rejected Abidin’s request for a judicial review late on Friday.
The Chan and Sukumaran families were once again forced to make the grim ferry trip to Nusakambangan to visit their loved ones..
Lawyer Julian McMahon carries a self-portrait painted by Australian death row prisoner Myuran Sukumaran. Photo: Reuters
Chan’s fiancée, Feby Herewila, brother Michael, mother Helen and long-term friend and supporter Senior Pastor Christie Buckingham all boarded the ferry.
Michael Chan said the two Australians are still holding up “pretty well considering they feel that it is unjust given what has has happened over the last 10 years with their case”.
Michael Chan and Myruran Sukumaran’s brother, Chinthu, pleaded with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to intervene and spare their brothers’ lives.
“it still doesn’t have to be this way,” a tearful Chinthu Sukumaran said.
“I would ask the president to please, please show mercy. There are nine people with families who love them – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. We ask the president to please intervene and save their lives.”
Somewhere in the legal system in Indonesia, Michael Chan said, there has got to be mercy. “The president needs to show that now. He’s the only one that can stop it and it’s not too late to do so. so I ask the president please show mercy.”
Sukumaran’s mother Raji, brother Chinthu and sister Brintha also visited Besi prison.
They will be allowed to visit every day until the final hours when only a spiritual counsellor of their choice can be present.
The lawyer of another condemned man, Martin Anderson, described scenes of desolation and crying as the nine prisoners on death row began to say their goodbyes.
Anderson, Filipina maid Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte all refused to sign their notification of exemptions, although this will have no effect on the execution.
Anderson’s lawyer, Casmanto Sudra, said his client kept repeating in disbelief: “Fifty grams. Death”.
He was convicted of possessing just 50 grams of heroin in Jakarta in November 2003.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made a last-ditch bid for mercy for the Bali nine pair.
Mr Abbott made the appeal to the Indonesian president while in Turkey on Saturday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign.
He asked the president to extend clemency to Chan and Sukumaran, describing them as reformed individuals and asking for them to not be executed.
Mr Abbott said the government had been making representations “at every possible level to the Indonesian government for many months now”.
“We abhor the death penalty, we oppose it at home we oppose it abroad and I want to reassure Australians that even at this late hour we are continuing to make the strongest possible representations to the Indonesian government that this is not in the best interests of Indonesia let alone in the best interests of the young Australians concerned,” he said.
“I know that this is obviously a late hour and so far our representations haven’t been crowned with success – so again I simply make the point that it is not in the best interests of Indonesia, it is not in accordance with the best values of Indonesia.
“This doesn’t accord with the Indonesia that I know well and respect very greatly to go ahead with something like this.”
He said the topic was likely to come up in discussions on Monday with the French government, and he expected all like-minded countries would stand together in wanting to uphold “the best values of civilisation”, which did not accord with the death penalty.
The Prime Minister has had limited success in his attempts to speak to Mr Widodo about the pair; after an initial phone call, Mr Widodo said he was too busy to take the second and third calls.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who is also in Turkey, said the news that Chan and Sukumaran could be executed as soon as Tuesday was a “deeply worrying development”.
“No one thinks they deserve to escape punishment, but they don’t deserve this,” he said.
“Labor opposes the death penalty in every circumstance, in every country. I believe it demeans us all.”
Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi about the pair during a brief stop in the Middle East while flying back to Australia.
Ms Bishop stressed the need for all legal processes to be determined before any action is taken.
Evangelist preacher Matius Arif Mirdjaja, a former drug addict and prisoner in Bali’s Kerobokan jail who was baptised by Chan, said Indonesia would be remembered as a nation that killed a pastor and an artist, not drug kingpins.
“History will write that we are a nation that killed all the repented, a nation that loses empathy and compassion for people who have transformed their lives and helped others,” he said.
On Monday Amnesty International will spell out the words #KeepHopeAlive with thousands of flowers at Blues Point Reserve, overlooking Sydney Harbour.
A public protest will be held outside the Indonesian Consulate General in Sydney at 4pm on Monday.
Indonesia Institute president Ross Taylor said retribution in the wake of the Bali nine executions would not be in the best interests of Australia or the region.
“With (the Australians’) deaths will come calls for retribution, including withdrawal of aid funding, trade and tourist sanctions and perhaps even the withdrawal of Australia’s new ambassador to Indonesia, Paul Grigson,” Mr Taylor said.
“To impose retribution of this kind would be counter-productive to Australia’s interests in the region, and such action will invite an increase in the already high level of nationalistic sentiment, and a ‘tit-for-tat’ response from the new Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo government.”
Meanwhile, lawyers for Gularte, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, will lodge a request for a judicial review into his case on Monday.
They say Gularte was mentally ill when he tried to smuggle six kilograms of cocaine into Indonesia hidden inside surfboards and should be hospitalised not executed.
Gularte’s lawyer, Christina Widiantarti, said he became angry and upset when he was notified of his execution on Saturday.
“He said, I’ve been here for seven years, I did one mistake, everybody uses illegal narcotic, why do I have to be executed?” Ms Widiantarti said. “Everybody there knows Rodrigo is mentally ill. He refused to sign the notification of his death. “Because he was angry, he didn’t say what his last request was, he didn’t say what to do after the execution.”
On Friday lawyers for Veloso lodged a request for a second judicial review on the grounds she was “primarily a human trafficking victim in the first place, and therefore, must be protected”.
However Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told Fairfax Media that under Indonesian law only one judicial review was allowed.
Veloso maintains she was tricked by her godsister into carrying a suitcase lined with heroin into Yogyakarta, where she was seeking employment as a domestic helper.
Veloso’s plight has captured the sympathy of Indonesians still reeling from the beheadings of two Indonesian domestic workers in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
The hashtag #SaveMaryJane has been trending on Twitter with several local celebrities supporting her case for mercy.