Bodies of Australians executed in Indonesia arrive home

Bodies of Australians executed in Indonesia arrive home
Australian foreign minister blasted for suggesting it was 'time to move on' from the executions.

The coffins of two Australian men executed in Indonesia for drug smuggling arrived at Sydney airport on Saturday.

The ABC reported that on board the flight were also Myuran Sukumaran’s parents, and Andrew Chan’s Indonesian wife Febyanti Herewila.

Chan and Herewila were married Monday, two days before Sukumaran, 34, and Chan, 31, were shot dead with six other prisoners despite international pleas for clemency.

The duo had been found guilty in 2006 over their role in a plot to bring heroin into Australia from the Indonesian resort island of Bali. 

Following Wednesday’s early morning execution, their bodies are reported to have been loaded into ambulances, taken by ferry to a nearby port and then driven in a police convoy to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. 

There, they were placed in white boxes draped in silk with bouquets of white roses on top, and then driven to the airport. 

For days, Australia – along with Brazil, who also lost a national in the executions – has criticized the actions of the Indonesian government, but on Saturday Foreign Minister Julie Bishop suggested it was “time to move on.”

Shadow Assistant Health Minister Stephen Jones claimed her comments showed a lack of humanity.

“If that’s what the government is thinking, I would ask them to rethink,” Jones told Sky News.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the deaths as “cruel and unnecessary,” and Australia has recalled its ambassador.

Abbott said Saturday, however, that he was confident the relationship with Indonesia could be rebuilt, adding it is “important to our future.”

The Australian Catholic University announced this week that it will recognize Sukumaran and Chan by introducing scholarships in their names.

Indonesian students would be eligible, it said in a statement, but would have to submit an essay on the sanctity of human life.

“In a small but deeply symbolic way, the writing by Indonesian students on the sanctity of life would be an ongoing contribution toward the eventual abolition of the death penalty in Indonesia,” Vice Chancellor Professor Greg Craven wrote.

In an interview with radio station 2GB on Saturday, Abbott described the decision the university was sending as a “very unusual message.”

“It’s, if I may say so, an odd thing for a university to do.”

In Feb. 2006, Chan and Sukumaran were sentenced to death in Indonesia for their role in organizing the smuggling of 8.3 kg of heroin valued at around $3.1 million from Indonesia to Australia by a gang who became known as the Bali Nine.

The duo were sentenced to death as the group’s ringleaders, while Si Yi Chen, Michael Czugaj, Renae Lawrence, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Norman, Scott Rush, and Martin Stephens were sent to prison.