Pubdate: Wed, 29 Apr 2015
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Los Angeles Times
Author: Robyn Dixon


Seven Foreigners Are Among Drug Convicts Killed. a Filipina Is Spared for Now.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Ignoring international pressure and 
heart-wrenching last-minute family pleas for clemency, Indonesia 
executed eight men on drug charges early Wednesday, Indonesian news 
media reported.

However, authorities said they had spared for now a female prisoner 
from the Philippines who had been scheduled to die.

Officials did not release an immediate statement confirming the 
executions of seven foreigners and an Indonesian. News reports cited 
unnamed officials, and Amnesty International said it had received 
confirmation of the executions. The Brazilian Foreign Ministry said 
its one citizen among the condemned had been put to death.

Todung Mulya Lubis, a lawyer for the two Australian prisoners 
sentenced to death, issued a statement on Twitter. "I failed. I 
lost," he tweeted. In a later tweet, he added: "I'm sorry."

Gunshots were heard about 12:30 a.m. from Nusakambangan island, where 
executions take place, the Associated Press reported.

The European Union and governments of France and Australia had urged 
President Joko Widodo on Tuesday to halt the proceedings.

"It is not too late to change your mind," they said in a statement. 
"Forgiveness and rehabilitation are fundamental to the Indonesian 
judicial system as well as in our system."

A spokesman for Indonesia's attorney general confirmed that one of 
the prisoners, Mary Jane Veloso, had been granted a temporary stay of 
execution to allow her to testify at a trial in the Philippines. "The 
execution of Mary Jane has been postponed due to the request of the 
Philippines president in relation to an alleged human trafficker who 
recently gave herself up in the Philippines," Tony Spontana told reporters.

The delay was to allow testimony at the trial of Maria Kristina 
Sergio, who is accused of having lured Veloso into unknowingly 
smuggling heroin into Indonesia.

Veloso said she was going there for work and was given a suitcase. 
Although it seemed heavy, she said, she checked inside and found nothing.

On Tuesday afternoon, before Veloso received a stay of execution, 
family members met with the nine condemned prisoners and later 
pleaded for Joko to spare their lives.

"I saw today something that no other family should ever have to go 
through," Michael Chan of Australia, the brother of Andrew Chan, told 
journalists after saying farewell to his brother in prison. "Nine 
families inside a prison saying goodbye to their loved ones. Kids, 
mothers, brothers, cousins, sisters, you name it, they were all 
there. To walk out of there and say goodbye for the last time, it's torture.

"There has to be a moratorium on the death penalty," he said.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the "ghastly process" 
endured by the families of the condemned Australians underscored how 
chaotic the leadup to the executions had been.

"They do deserve respect and they do deserve to have dignity shown to 
them at this time of unspeakable grief, but that doesn't seem to have 
been extended to them at this time," Bishop said on Australian 
television shortly before the executions.

Earlier Tuesday, Australian Atty. Gen. George Brandis called on 
Indonesia to halt the executions while legal proceedings relevant to 
the cases of Chan and countryman Myuran Sukumaran were continuing, 
including allegations that judges in their trial demanded a bribe for 
a sentence of less than 20 years.

"These proceedings raise serious questions regarding the integrity of 
the two men's initial sentence and the clemency process," Brandis 
said in a statement Tuesday. "It is important that these actions are 
heard in full before any further steps are taken."

Sukumaran's mother, Raji, and sister Brintha wept uncontrollably as 
they begged for clemency after saying farewell to him in Besi prison. 
"I just had to say goodbye to my son, and I won't see him again," the 
mother told reporters between sobs. "Please, Mr. President, please 
don't kill my son. Please don't."

Supporters held candlelight vigils and circulated online petitions 
calling for mercy.

Chan was recently ordained as a pastor. Sukumaran took up painting in 
jail and gave art lessons. Nigerian gospel singer Okwudili Oyatanze 
recorded songs in prison.

Lawyers for Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte said he should be spared 
because he suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 
Indonesian laborer Zainal Abidin was arrested after an acquaintance 
arrived at his home with sacks he said held rice. Police raided the 
house and found marijuana in the bags.

Indonesia has this year seen a sharp increase in executions for drug 
crimes under Joko, who has declared that the country is suffering 
from a drug emergency and in recent months has rejected all clemency 
bids by drug offenders.

In January, Indonesia executed five foreigners and one Indonesian for 
drug offenses, sparking international condemnation.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom