CILICAP, Indonesia » A Philippine woman convicted of drug smuggling — one of nine people due to face a firing squad — has been granted a stay of execution, Indonesia’s attorney general said Wednesday.
Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo did not comment on whether the executions of two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian man had been carried out as scheduled shortly after midnight.
Indonesia media reported that the eight had been executed, citing official though unidentified sources.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia will withdraw its ambassador from Jakarta in response to the still unconfirmed executions of two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31.
"These executions are both cruel and unnecessary," Abbott told reporters.
"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," he added.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement the execution of a second Brazilian citizen in Indonesia this year "marks a serious event in the relations between the two countries."
Brazil had asked for a stay of execution for Rodrigo Gularte, 42, on humanitarian grounds because he was schizophrenic.
Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira was one of six drug convicts including foreigners that Jakarta executed in January, brushing aside last-minute appeals from Brazil and the Netherlands. Indonesia has 125 people are on death row, including 49 drug convicts.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has vowed to show no mercy to drug criminals.
Gunshots were heard around 12:30 a.m. local time (7:30 a.m. Hawaii time) from Nusakambangan island where executions take place.
Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, 30, had been arrested in 2010 at the airport in the central Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, where officials discovered about 5.5 pounds of heroin hidden in her luggage.
Prasetyo said Veloso was granted a stay of execution because her alleged boss has been arrested in the Philippines, and the authorities there requested Indonesian assistance in pursuing the case.
"This delay did not cancel the execution. We just want to give chance in relation with the legal process in the Philippines," Prasetyo said.
Mary Jane Veloso’s mother, Celia, told Manila radio station DZBB from Indonesia that what happened was "a miracle."
"We thought we’ve lost my daughter. I really thank God. What my daughter Mary Jane said earlier was true, ‘If God wants me to live, even if just by a thread or just in the final minute, I will live," Celia Veloso said.
"That’s what she said and it became true. So I really thank God for this miracle that happened to my child," she said.
Michael Chan, brother of Andrew Chan, who became a Christian pastor during his decade in prison, reacted with anger.
"I have just lost a courageous brother to a flawed Indonesian legal system. I miss you already RIP my Little Brother," Michael Chan tweeted.
The executions were widely condemned.
"The execution of these eight people for non-violent drug offenses will do nothing to reduce the availability of drugs in Indonesia or other countries, or protect people from drug abuse." Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance said in a statement.
"All it demonstrates is the savagery of which governments are capable," he added.
London-based Amnesty International called on Indonesia to abandon plans for further executions.
"These executions are utterly reprehensible," Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.
"They were carried out with complete disregard for internationally recognized safeguards on the use of the death penalty," he added.
He said the prisoners were killed despite having at least two ongoing legal appeals. Some were reportedly not provided access to competent lawyers or interpreters during their arrest and initial trial, in violation of their right to a fair trial, he said
Ambulances carrying coffins arrived Tuesday at a prison island and relatives paid final visits to their condemned loved ones as Indonesia announced it would execute the eight foreigners and one Indonesian man on drug charges, despite an international outcry and pleas for mercy.
At least five ambulances carrying coffins were seen driving through the port city of Cilicap, where the prison island ferry lands, more than four hours after the reported executions. They are thought to be carrying executed prisoners’ bodies.
The nine inmates were given 72-hour notices over the weekend that they would be executed by a firing squad, prompting a flurry of last-minute lobbying by foreign leaders. The United Nations has argued that their crimes — possession of heroin, marijuana or cocaine — were not egregious enough to warrant the ultimate punishment.