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8 Inmates Refused Blindfolds, Sang at Firing Squad

Pastor says the scene was 'breathtaking'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2015 6:09 AM CDT
8 Inmates Stared Down Firing Squad, Sang Hymns
Ambulances carrying the bodies of Australian death-row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran arrive at a funeral home in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, April 29, 2015.   (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

(Newser) – "Breathtaking" is probably not a word you'd usually associate with the executions of eight people, but that's exactly how a pastor describes the scene in Indonesia just after midnight local time. Seven foreigners and a local man refused blindfolds as they stood in front of a firing squad over drug-smuggling convictions and broke out into a chorus of "Amazing Grace" while staring down their executioners. A second song, "Bless the Lord O My Soul," began but was cut short by gunfire, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. "They were praising their God," says a pastor who witnessed the executions, adding it was the most beautiful experience of her life: "It was breathtaking. This was the first time I witnessed someone so excited to meet their God."

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Outside, family members, many hoping for a last-minute stay, lit candles and recited the Lord's Prayer as they watched cars carry the inmates to the execution site. At the sound of gunshots, many became inconsolable, though spiritual advisers were on hand. A source tells the Herald all eight prisoners were shot in the heart and none in the head, which is required if an inmate isn't dead after 10 minutes. Their bodies have been transferred to Jakarta, and those of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, members of the so-called Bali Nine, will be returned to Australia. "We respect Indonesia's sovereignty but we do deplore what's been done, and this cannot be simply business as usual," Prime Minister Tony Abbott says, per the BBC, which notes Australia has yanked its ambassador from Indonesia. (More on the story here.)

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