Eight drug smugglers – including seven foreigners – executed in Indonesia went to their deaths singing hymns and praying.

The men refused to wear blindfolds as they were put to death in a jungle clearing near the prison on the island of Nusakambangan in Central Java.
Family members held a vigil nearby and heard the shots as the two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian were killed.

“The good thing is all prisoners were executed together while praying and singing,” Christina Widiantarti, a lawyer for the Brazilian convict and a witness to the execution, said.

“Before that they hugged each other, saying goodbye.”

The hymns, among them Amazing Grace, were sung as the convicts were being tied to posts four metres apart.

“When they were being put on the cross for execution they were singing on the crosses and we were in a tent not too far away from the execution place trying to support them,” Father Charlie Burrows told News Corp Australia.

The husband of Pastor Christie Buckingham, who gave spiritual guidance to one of the Australians, said his wife told him the men conducted themselves with “dignity and strength until the end”.

In Cilacap, the crossing point to the prison island and where the vigil was taking place, Amazing Grace was also sung and one person read out the names of the condemned.

Australia and Brazil both condemned the refusal to heed last-ditch pleas to save their nationals, but Indonesia’s attorney general insisted it was part of the “war” on drugs.

Muhammad Prasetyo said: “We are fighting a war against horrible drug crimes that threaten our nation’s survival.”

It reflects the hard line on enforcing the death penalty adopted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo when he came to office last July, damaging diplomatic relations with several countries.

One prisoner, Filipina housemaid Mary Jane Veloso, was spared at the last minute.

She was arrested in 2010 after she arrived in Indonesia with 2.6 kg of heroin, but will now be allowed to give evidence after a woman suspected of planting the drugs gave herself up to police in the Philippines on Tuesday.SKY

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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