Indonesia confirms 8 executions for drug smuggling

2015-04-29 06:08
An ambulance arrives from the prison island of Nusakambangan where the executions were carried out, in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia. (Tatan Syuflana, AP)

An ambulance arrives from the prison island of Nusakambangan where the executions were carried out, in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia. (Tatan Syuflana, AP)

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Cilacap - Indonesia brushed aside last-minute appeals and executed eight people convicted of drug smuggling on Wednesday, although a Philippine woman was granted a stay of execution.

Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo confirmed at a press conference hours after the deaths had been widely reported that each of the eight had been executed simultaneously at 00:35 each by a 13-member firing squad. Medical teams confirmed their deaths three minutes later, he said.

"The executions have been successfully implemented, perfectly," Prasetyo said. "All worked, no misses," he said of the executions of two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian man.

Prasetyo early announced that Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso had been granted a stay of execution while the Philippines investigates her case.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia will withdraw its ambassador from Jakarta in response to the executions of two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31.

‘Cruel’

"These executions are both cruel and unnecessary," Abbott told reporters.

He said it was cruel because Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran had spent a decade in jail before being executed and "unnecessary because both of these young Australians were fully rehabilitated while in prison."

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement the execution of a second Brazilian citizen in Indonesia this year "marks a serious event in the relations between the two countries."

Brazil had asked for a stay of execution for Rodrigo Gularte, 42, on humanitarian grounds because he was schizophrenic.

Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira was one of six drug convicts that Jakarta executed in January, brushing aside last-minute appeals from Brazil and the Netherlands.

Brazil and the Netherlands withdrew their ambassadors from Jakarta in protest at those executions.

There was relief in Manila when it was announced that Veloso would not be executed with the others.

‘Miracle’

Mary Jane Veloso's mother, Celia, told Manila radio station DZBB from Indonesia that what happened was "a miracle."

"We thought we've lost my daughter. I really thank God. What my daughter Mary Jane said earlier was true, 'If God wants me to live, even if just by a thread or just in the final minute, I will live," Celia Veloso said.

"The Philippine government thanks President Widodo and the Indonesian government for giving due consideration to President Aquino's appeal that Mary Jane Veloso be given a reprieve," presidential spokesperson Herminio Coloma said.

"Such reprieve provides an opportunity for the perpetuation of her testimony that could shed light on how a criminal syndicate duped her into being an unwitting accomplice or courier in their human and drug trafficking activities," he said.

There were cheers from the more than 250 Veloso supporters who held a candlelight vigil outside the Indonesian embassy in Manila.

"We are very happy. It's euphoric here. Everyone's rejoicing and waving their flags after learning that Mary Jane has been spared," protest leader Renato Reyes said outside the embassy.

Arrested

Veloso, 30, was arrested in 2010 at the airport in the central Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, where officials discovered about 2.5kg of heroin hidden in her luggage.

Prasetyo said Veloso was granted a stay of execution because her alleged boss has been arrested in the Philippines, and the authorities there requested Indonesian assistance in pursuing the case.

"This delay did not cancel the execution. We just want to give a chance in relation with the legal process in the Philippines," Prasetyo said.

The woman who allegedly recruited Veloso to work in Kuala Lumpur, Maria Kristina Sergio, surrendered to police in the Philippines on Monday, National Police Officer-in-Charge, Deputy Director-General Leonardo A Espina said.

Veloso has maintained that she was used as a drug mule without her knowledge.

Anger

Michael Chan, brother of Andrew Chan, who became a Christian pastor during his decade in prison and married an Indonesian woman on Monday, reacted with anger.

"I have just lost a courageous brother to a flawed Indonesian legal system. I miss you already RIP my Little Brother," Michael Chan tweeted.

"Today we lost Myu and Andrew, our sons, our brothers," the Sukumaran and Chan families later said in a statement.

"In the 10 years since they were arrested, they did all they could to make amends, helping many others. They asked for mercy, but there was none," the statement added.

The executions were widely condemned.

London-based Amnesty International called on Indonesia to abandon plans for further executions.

"These executions are utterly reprehensible," Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International's research director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.

Bodies to be flown back

Eight ambulances carrying coffins were seen driving through the port city of Cilacap, where the Nusakambangan prison island ferry lands, more than four hours after the reported executions. They were thought to be carrying the bodies of the executed.

Sukumaran and Chan requested that their bodies be flown back to Australia. Nigerian Martin Anderson chose to be buried in the West Java town of Bekasi, and fellow Nigerian Raheem Agbaje, wanted to be buried in the East Java town of Madiun where he had been a prisoner. Indonesian Zainal Abidin is to be buried in Cilacap.

The wishes of two other Nigerians — Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise and Okwudili Oyatanze — as well as those of Gularte, the Brazilian, have yet to be made public.

Originally, 10 inmates were to be executed, but Frenchman Serge Atlaoui was excluded because he still had an outstanding court appeal against President Joko Widodo's rejection of his clemency application.

Widodo has vowed to show no mercy to drug criminals.

The government says Atlaoui will face a firing squad alone if his appeal is rejected by the Administrative Court.

The latest executions brought to 14 the number of drug traffickers shot in Indonesia under Widodo's administration, which took power in October last year.

Read more on:    indonesia  |  narcotics

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