Redcar Grandma 'Deeply Saddened' By Indonesian Executions

29 April 2015, 06:00 | Updated: 29 April 2015, 07:27

A grandmother from Redcar, on death row in Indonesia, says she is "deeply saddened'' by the deaths of two Australians who were among eight convicted drug smugglers executed in the country.

Lindsay Sandiford, who is facing death by firing squad for drugs offences, said Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan "touched the lives of a great many people'' after helping to rehabilitate fellow prisoners.

The men's executions by firing squad reportedly took place in Besi prison on the island of Nusakambangan despite calls from the Australian government to delay the killings.

In a statement issued through her lawyer from Kerobokan Prison in Bali, Ms Sandiford, 58, said:
"I am deeply saddened to learn that Myuran Sukumaran and my dear friend Andrew Chan have been executed.

Many things have been said about whether Andrew and Myuran deserved to die for their crimes.

I didn't know those men at the time they committed those crimes 10 years ago. What I can say is that the Andrew and Myuran I knew were men who did good and touched the lives of a great many people, including myself.''

Ms Sandiford, who's originally from Redcar, said Chan was a "close friend and confidante'' when they were in Kerobokan prison together.

She said:
"He counselled and helped me through exceptionally difficult times after I was sentenced to death in 2013.

Myu and Andrew used their time in Kerobokan to make life better for everyone around them. They introduced the concept of rehabilitation to a prison that never had it before.

They organised painting classes, cookery classes and computer classes, and gave practical help to make sure the poorest prisoners had food, clothing and essentials.

Whoever they were and wherever they were from, they made sure inmates who were sick got access to health care and hospital services which are not covered by the prison budget.

The men shot dead today were reformed men - good men who transformed the lives of people around them. Their senseless, brutal deaths leave the world a poorer place.''

The eight people reportedly killed included Nigerian nationals, a Brazilian and an Indonesian.

The execution of Filipina woman Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso was delayed after a request by the Philippine president, a spokesman from the attorney general's office told the BBC.

Ringleaders Chan and Sukumaran along with seven other Australians were arrested in Bali in 2005 for trying to smuggle more than 18lb (8.2kg) of heroin from Indonesia to Australia.

The other seven members of the "Bali Nine'' are currently serving either life or 20 years in prison.

Sandiford was sentenced to death in January 2013 in Bali after being convicted of trafficking drugs.

She was found with cocaine worth an estimated £1.6 million as she arrived in Bali on a flight from Bangkok, Thailand, in May 2012.

She admitted the offences, but claimed she had been coerced by threats to her son's life, and has since appealed against her sentence without success.