Are the Indonesian authorities setting up an escape hatch for the Bali Nine executions?

It sort of looks that way. In the time since Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were transferred to a maximum-security death row tier at Iron Prison on Nusakambangan (early reports were that they would be transferred, so help me, to Stone Prison), their tentative execution date has been moved back from ASAP to definitely not within the week of their transfer, to maybe ten days beyond their arrival, to after the exhaustion of all pending appeals, to possibly not within the month of March. Additionally, the timing of their executions has been formally joined to the executions of several other convicts, including a Filipina drug convict named Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, who is on a list for transfer to Nusakambangan but remains in Yogyakarta, where she is pursuing an appeal in person.

The shoot-the-bastards hardliners now have, for what it’s worth, wiggle room to call off the executions or have them called off and still save face. They were working a jingoistic national sovereignty angle by being blustery in the face of Australian pressure. Adverse rulings by Indonesian courts will give them an opportunity to back off in the interest of the separation of powers rather than international judicial norms. It will allow them to appear bumbling, maybe even useless, but honorable. The significant hardliners at this point are quickly dwindling to President Joko Widodo and Attorney General H. M. Prasetyo. A dozen or so drug war fuckheads from Granat showed up at the Cilacap ferry dock the other day to burn a corpse in effigy and damn criminal drugs to hell, but they’re apparently a pretty marginal and sparse bunch. Meanwhile, there have been pleas domestically to spare Chan and Sukumaran from the governor of Jakarta, Kerobokan prison officials, and even one of the president’s sons. It’s also been reported that Indonesian representatives to the UN have suggested that Indonesia may reintroduce the general moratorium on the death penalty that was in place until 2013.

Jokowi and Prasetyo have good reason to figure that they’ve fucked up this battle and should quietly lay down their arms. In January, the Indonesian authorities denied a Brazilian prisoner, Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, a pastoral visit from a local Catholic priest to administer last rites, then dragged him from his cell while he begged for mercy and soiled himself, hosed him off, and hauled him out to the killing field, crying to the bitter end. This month, they deliberately humiliated and brutalized Chan and Sukumaran during their transfer to Nusukambangan, freaking out and provoking many Australians. In the space of three calendar months, Indonesia has received formal diplomatic protests from the Netherlands, Brazil, and Australia over its treatment of their citizens on death row, and it has become an interational byword for disproportionate violence towards alien prisoners.

God willing, cooler heads will prevail before they kill anyone else.

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