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Australia floats prisoner swap to save Indonesia pair


Australians Mr Andrew Chan (L) and Mr Myuran Sukumaran (R) inside a holding cell waiting for trial at a Denpasar District Court in Bali, Indonesia. Mr Chan, 31, and Mr Sukumaran, 34, are the only members of the so-called Bali Nine drug smuggling ring on death row for trying to smuggle 8.3 kilogrammes of heroin from the Indonesian resort island of Bali to Australia in 2005. Photo: Made Nagi/EPA

Australians Mr Andrew Chan (L) and Mr Myuran Sukumaran (R) inside a holding cell waiting for trial at a Denpasar District Court in Bali, Indonesia. Mr Chan, 31, and Mr Sukumaran, 34, are the only members of the so-called Bali Nine drug smuggling ring on death row for trying to smuggle 8.3 kilogrammes of heroin from the Indonesian resort island of Bali to Australia in 2005. Photo: Made Nagi/EPA

Australia on March 5 suggested a prisoner swap with Indonesia in an 11th hour bid to save two drug smugglers facing execution, while voicing "deep concern" about Jakarta's international reputation if they are killed.

Mr Andrew Chan and Mr Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" drug trafficking gang, could be shot within days after being moved on March 4 to the Indonesian island where they are due to face a firing squad.

Authorities must give convicts 72 hours' notice before they are executed and in a last-ditch effort to save them Foreign Minister Julie Bishop proposed a prisoner swap.

She said she had spoken to her counterpart Ms Retno Marsudi in what was reportedly "a very tense phone call".

"I've spoken to her on a number of occasions about this, and I wanted to explore any other avenues or opportunities to save the lives of these two young men who have been so remarkably rehabilitated," Ms Bishop told ABC radio.

"She undertook to pass on my comments to the president.

"I didn't go into any specific detail but I did note there were Australian prisoners in Jakarta and there were Indonesian prisoners in Australia and that we should explore some opportunity, a prison swap, a transfer, whether that could be done under Indonesian law."

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that any deal could involve three Indonesians in prison in Australia over their role in an infamous 1998 drug bust.

They were named as Kristito Mandagi, Saud Siregar and Ismunandar, the captain, chief officer and engineer respectively of a boat carrying 390 kilograms (860 pounds) of heroin that was seized near Port Macquarie, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of Sydney.

Ms Bishop warned Chan and Sukumaran's execution would have implications, not just in Australia but more globally.

© AFP

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