“Barbaric, backward and truly disgraceful act”: Axl Rose begged Joko Widodo, a heavy metal fan, not to proceed with the executions. Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images
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Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran

“Barbaric, backward and truly disgraceful act”: Axl Rose begged Joko Widodo, a heavy metal fan, not to proceed with the executions. Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

“Barbaric, backward and truly disgraceful act”: Axl Rose begged Joko Widodo, a heavy metal fan, not to proceed with the executions. Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Australian Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in Indonesia. Photo: Anta Kesuma

Joko Widodo may be a heavy metal fan, but the pleas of Guns ‘N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose were not enough to dissuade him from executing Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Rose penned a letter to the Indonesian president on April 27, begging him to grant clemency for the Bali Nine duo and Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, lest Indonesia become “the more offensive criminal”.

“Their crimes were now long ago, their hearts and minds forever changed by their crimes,” Rose wrote.

“To kill these men under these conditions of their profound and proven change for the better seems a barbaric, backward and truly disgraceful act of pride, ego, fear and prejudice.”

Veloso was ultimately granted a last-minute reprieve after her alleged drug-trafficking recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio, surrendered at a police station in Manila, and Philippine President Benigno Aquino stepped up his lobbying of Mr Joko at a summit of south-east Asian leaders on Sunday.

But after the executions of Chan and Sukumaran proceeded as planned, Rose made his anger and disappointment known on Twitter.

1. It’s deeply troubling President Widodo ignoring International outcry went thru w/8 of the executions.— Axl Rose (@axlrose) April 29, 2015

2. Let’s pray Miss Veloso’s reprieve is permanent.— Axl Rose (@axlrose) April 29, 2015

3. Widodo’s refusal 2 postpone the executions until all legal challenges n’ investigations of corruption r resolved is inexcusable.— Axl Rose (@axlrose) April 29, 2015

4. 4 Widodo 2 b out of the country during his big statement refusing 2 take calls or read any last minute pleas 4 the condemned is cowardice— Axl Rose (@axlrose) April 29, 2015

5. The People of Indonesia deserve better.— Axl Rose (@axlrose) April 29, 2015

Exactly what drew Rose to Chan and Sukumaran’s plight is unclear. In his original letter to Mr Joko, he wrote that he had no personal connection to the two men and had never met them – but he said their story had “touched me deeply”. He could have easily found himself in their position, he wrote.

Rose described a 2012 Guns ‘N’ Roses tour of Indonesia as “a very special and exciting experience”, and thanked Mr Joko for the hospitality. He said the band was “taken aback by the incredible warmth of the Indonesian fans”.

Rose may also have been hoping to capitalise on the president’s appreciation for heavy metal music. Mr Joko counts rockers Metallica, Megadeth, Lamb of God and Napalm Death among his favourite acts.

Chan and Sukumaran’s Indonesian lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, had previously reached out to Metallica on Twitter, asking the band to come to Indonesia to perform and make a plea to Mr Joko.

It did not appear that any of the president’s favoured bands had commented on the executions on their social media pages in recent weeks. But Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway also wrote a letter to Mr Joko pleading for mercy in January.

In his own letter, Rose said the two Australian men had been rehabilitated and that to persist with the executions would be “draconian justice” and a punishment that “no longer fits the original crime”.

“People make mistakes, sometimes big and horribly regrettable mistakes and sometimes more importantly people learn from their mistakes and make new choices, strive and succeed at true positive change,” the musician wrote.

He said granting clemency would have enabled Mr Joko “to show your country’s strength and allow the world to witness an extraordinary act of humanity and bravery”.

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