Indonesia executes two Nigerians for drug smuggling

Indonesia has executed two Nigerians found guilty of heroin offences - the first drug offenders put to death in four years - as the country prepared to speed up the execution of the other drug traffickers on death row, officials said Friday, the dpa reported.

The two Nigerians - Samuel Iwachekwu Okeye, 37, and Hansen Anthony Nwaoysa, 40 - were executed by two firing squads in Nusakambangan island, off the southern coast of central Java, a local police officer said.

"The executions were carried out shortly before midnight (1700 GMT) Thursday," Central Java police mobile brigade chief Colonel Dicky Atotoy was quoted as saying by the state-run Antara news agency.

"The two were confirmed dead by doctors about 10 minutes after they were being executed by firing squad teams," Atotoy said, explaining that the executions took place about 6 kilometres from Nusakambangan's prison.

Atotoy said before the execution the pair were blessed by two priests, adding that "they were handcuffed to poles, standing side by side and shot by two sniper squads," comprising of 14 officers.

Okoye was sentenced to death after he was caught smuggling 3.8 kilograms of heroin into the country at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, while Anthony was given the death penalty for circulating 3.2 kilograms of heroin in the country. They were convicted and sentenced to death in 2001

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono turned down the two men's requests for clemency three years later.

The two were sent to the Nusakambangan island, known as Indonesia's "Alcatraz," off the southern coast of central Java, a prison for notorious criminals and terrorist convicts on death row - including Bali bombers Imam Samudra, Ali Ghufron and the "smiling assasin" Amrozi.

The last person to be executed for a drug offence in Indonesia was an Indian national and two Thais in 2004.

Attorney-General Hendarman Supandji and Indonesia's national police chief, General Sutanto, said on Thursday that other drug offenders on death row could expect their cases to be expedited.

Supandji said there were nearly 60 people on death row in Indonesia, including three Australian over the failed "Bali Nine" plot to smuggle more than eight kilograms of heroin to Australia in 2005. Nearly half of those on death row are foreigners.

"To give them a lesson, drug traffickers must be executed immediately," said Sutanto, who like many Indonesians goes only by one name, adding that detaining drug traffickers in prisons did not discourage them because they use jails as drug-trafficking hubs.

"International drug-trafficking syndicates have in fact been run from jails, so prisons cannot stop the crime," Sutanto said.

Human rights campaigners have pushed for an end to the death penalty, which they argued has proven ineffective in deterring drug dealers and violates human rights.

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