Convicts left in dark over executions
TEN drug convicts, spared during a chaotic execution in Indonesia, were only officially informed they would not be shot hours after they had expected to face the firing squad, a lawyer said yesterday.
Despite international protests, one Indonesian and three Nigerian convicts were put to death shortly after midnight on July 29 on a prison island – Jakarta’s first round of executions for over a year.
But another 10 death row prisoners, including Indonesians as well as nationals from Pakistan, India, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, were not executed, although authorities have suggested they will face the firing squad at a later date.
It is still not clear why the group were pulled from the latest round and the process has attracted strong condemnation, with one lawyer calling it a “complete mess”.
Authorities have not given an explanation but theories have ranged from concerns over legal problems with several cases to a major storm that hit the island as officials were about to carry out the sentences.
Adding to the sense of chaos, a lawyer for one of the 10 said they were not officially informed their executions were being halted until around 6am on July 29 – about five hours after the first executions took place, and four hours after authorities had announced it to the media.
Lawyer Arinta Singgih – who represented Indonesian woman Merri Utami – said as the hours passed, the group suspected they had been spared.
“At six o’clock, the doors of the isolation cells were opened,” Ms Arinta said, referring to the cells where death row convicts wait before being executed.
“Guessing that they would not be executed, they walked out of the doors and hugged each other in joy.”
Only hours earlier, a warden had
told Ms Merri, whom activists have claimed was tricked into becoming a drug mule, to get ready to leave her cell.
However, moments later, the warden told her to stay put – leading her to suspect the execution might not go ahead. –
An activist from the Indonesia Women Coalition holds a placard reading “Clemency for Merry Utami”, an Indonesian citizen on death row, during a protest against executions in Cilacap on July 28.