Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jul 2016
Source: Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
Copyright: The Jakarta Post
Authors: Margareth S. Aritonang and Agus Maryono


President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has been urged to cancel the planned 
executions of drug convicts and review his capital punishment policy 
as authorities prepare for executions on Nusakambangan prison island, 
Cilacap, Central Java.

Pakistani Zulfiqar Ali, one of the death row convicts, was 
transferred on Monday to a secluded prison on the island from a 
nearby hospital, where he had been treated for cirrhosis since May.

Zulfiqar, 52, was picked up from the hospital at around 11 a.m. to be 
put in an isolated cell ahead of the third round of executions 
expected to take place this week.

According to dossiers, Zulfiqar's deteriorating health was the result 
of torture allegedly committed by security personnel during detention.

He was transferred to the secluded prison despite criticism over the 
treatment of drug convicts. "Zulfiqar has been treated unfairly since 
he was arrested in 2004," Zulfiqar's lawyer, Saut Edward Rajagukguk, 
said on Monday.

Married to an Indonesian, Zulfiqar was arrested at his house in 
Bogor, West Java, where he had been living since he moved to 
Indonesia around the year 2000. Police arrested Zulfiqar based on a 
statement from Gurdip Singh, an Indian national who was arrested on 
allegations of heroin possession at Soekarno-Hatta International 
Airport on Aug. 24, 2004.

During police questioning, Gurdip said he got the heroin from 
Zulfiqar. At the time, Saut said, police officers allegedly tried to 
negotiate Zulfiqar's release by asking for money.

"Unfortunately, he had no money at that time, thus the police refused 
to let him go and instead moved him to a jail and tortured him."

Not only was Zulfiqar allegedly tortured until he confessed to 
supplying 0.3 kilograms of heroin to Gurdip but he was also 
reportedly not provided with a qualified interpreter during his trial 
at the Tangerang District Court and denied a lawyer.

During his trial, Gurdip retracted his statement against Zulfiqar, 
telling the panel of judges that Zulfiqar and his wife Ginong 
Pratidina were innocent and that he was forced by the police to 
connect the heroin to Zulfiqar.

The court, however, ignored Gurdip's statement and went on to 
sentence Zulfiqar to death in June 2005.

The Pakistani Embassy in Jakarta confirmed on Monday that Zulfiqar 
was among convicts set to face the firing squad.

The Attorney General's Office's (AGO) decision to transfer Zulfiqar 
to an isolated cell approaching his execution was also criticized by 
human rights advocates.

"President Jokowi vowed to uphold human rights during his 
presidential campaign. His grand vision of Nawacita also puts an 
emphasis on respecting human rights. Imposing the death penalty is 
absolutely against human rights," said Al Araf, executive director of 
human rights watchdog Imparsial.

Al Araf said the revelation of a number of judges involved in graft 
cases showed that the country's judicial system was corrupt.

"Insisting on executing convicts despite a questionable judicial 
legal system is deadly. Pak Jokowi must review the legal proceedings 
of death row convicts because it will be too late to do so when they 
have been killed," he added.

A similar call has also come from the Jakarta-based Community Legal 
Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat). Ricky Gunawan of LBH Masyarakat said 
Nigerian Humphrey Jefferson, who confessed to heroin possession in 
2003, faced an unfair trial.

"Delaying the execution is the wisest thing to do," Ricky said. "It's 
time for the government to review its policy."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom