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CILACAP, Indonesia — Eight drug-trafficking convicts from several countries were executed by an Indonesian firing squad shortly after midnight on Wednesday, media said, but a Filipina who was on death row with them was unexpectedly spared at the last minute.
There was no immediate official confirmation that the eight men had been executed. Earlier, Jakarta rejected last-ditch pleas from around the world for clemency to be granted the drug traffickers from Nigeria, Australia, Brazil and Indonesia, ordering their mass execution to proceed within hours.
A spokesman for the Attorney General's Office said the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, a mother of two who was arrested in 2010 after she arrived in Indonesia with 2.6 kg of heroin hidden in her suitcase, had been delayed. He said the delay came in response to a request from Manila after a drug courier gave herself up to police in the Philippines on Tuesday.
"The execution of Mary Jane (Veloso) has been postponed because there was a request from the Philippine president related to a perpetrator suspected of human trafficking who surrendered herself in the Philippines," said Tony Spontana, spokesman for the attorney general. "Mary Jane has been asked to testify."
People holding a vigil outside the Indonesian embassy in Manila cheered and clapped on hearing the news. The proposed death penalties were condemned by the United Nations, and have strained ties between Australia and Indonesia in particular.
Hours before the expected executions, crowds gathered in cities across Australia to hold vigils for Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, holding placards and calling for Australia to respond strongly to its neighbour if the executions proceed. Security was tight at the prison on an island off the Central Java coast where the executions were to take place, and a dozen ambulances, some carrying white satin-covered coffins, were seen arriving.
Indonesian authorities had declined to specify a time for the executions, which were due to take place at a nearby clearing in a forest. But when a group of drug traffickers was executed earlier this year, it was carried out at midnight. Officials said the prisoners were to be given the choice to stand, kneel or sit before the firing squad, and to be blindfolded. Their hands and feet were to be tied.
Indonesia has harsh punishments for drug crimes and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap.
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