Fam­i­lies of death row in­mates head to In­done­sia

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Rel­a­tives and diplo­mats rushed to an In­done­sian pri­son is­land on Fri­day ahead of the loom­ing ex­e­cu­tions of nine for­eign drug con­victs who are set to be shot in de­fi­ance of in­ter­na­tional out­rage.

In­done­sia has ad­vised con­sular of­fi­cials to go to Nusakam­ban­gan, the high- se­cu­rity pri­son is­land where its ex­e­cu­tions are car­ried out, and where all of the death row con­victs have now been trans­ported to.

The gov­ern­ment said an ex­act date for the ex­e­cu­tions could not be de­cided yet, as a ju­di­cial re­view was still pending for the sole In­done­sian in the group of 10 peo­ple who face death by fir­ing squad.

“We hope that the de­ci­sion will be made as soon as pos­si­ble so that we will have a chance to de­ter­mine the D-Day of the ex­e­cu­tions,” Tony Spon­tana, spokesman for In­done­sia’s at­tor­ney-gen­eral, told re­porters.

“The theme of the im­pend­ing ex­e­cu­tions is a war against drugs,” he stressed, while in­di­cat­ing that more than the legally re­quired min­i­mum no­tice pe­riod of 72 hours might be given to the for­eign em­bassies.

Chinthu Suku­maran, whose brother Myu­ran is one of two Aus­tralians in the group on death row, was mak­ing last-minute ar­range­ments to leave for Jakarta.

“I can’t be­lieve this is it. We still haven’t given up hope,” he told the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald.

Michael Chan, whose brother An­drew faces death too as a fel­low ring­leader of the “Bali Nine” heroin traf­fick­ing gang, was also head­ing to In­done­sia, the news­pa­per said.

Con­sular staff as­sist­ing a Brazil­ian con­vict were told by In­done­sian au­thor­i­ties to be in Ci­la­cap, the port town near­est Nusakam­ban­gan, on Satur­day.

Lawyers for the two Aus­tralians were to meet Aus­tralian em­bassy of­fi­cials in Ci­la­cap Satur­day as Can­berra said it was “gravely con­cerned” at the signs that the ex­e­cu­tions are drawing near.

“Our am­bas­sador in Jakarta is cur­rently en­gaged in mak­ing a se­ries of rep­re­sen­ta­tions,” Australia’s Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs told AFP in a state­ment.

The for­eign­ers — two from Australia, one each from Brazil, France and the Philip­pines, and four from Africa — have all lost ap­peals for cle­mency from Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo, who ar­gues that In­done­sia is fight­ing a drugs emer­gency.

One of the con­victs was pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied by the In­done­sian gov­ern­ment as Ghana­ian, but Spon­tana said he was in fact from Nige­ria, along with three other Nige­ri­ans in the group.

‘In­com­pre­hen­si­ble’

Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino maid whose two sons aged 12 and 6 have come to spend her fi­nal hours with her, was trans­ferred Fri­day morn­ing un­der heavy po­lice guard to Nusakam­ban­gan, spark­ing protests in Manila.

Her lawyers filed an­other court bid to halt the process, as the Aus­tralians have been do­ing. But In­done­sia says all ju­di­cial re­views and ap­peals for cle­mency have been ex­hausted, and that such at­tempts are merely de­lay­ing tac­tics.

“Maybe, the best we can hope for is a com­mu­ta­tion of the death sen­tence,” Philip­pine for­eign af­fairs spokesman Charles Jose told re­porters in Manila.

Vice Pres­i­dent Je­jo­mar Binay said he ap­pealed again for cle­mency for Veloso dur­ing a meet­ing with his In­done­sia coun­ter­part, Jusuf Kalla, on Thurs­day.

“I ap­peal to you on considerations of com­pas­sion, and as­sure you that the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment is ex­haust­ing all av­enues to en­sure that proper jus­tice is served to those re­spon­si­ble for de­ceiv­ing Mary Jane into hav­ing brought the drugs into In­done­sia,” Binay said, quot­ing from a writ­ten ap­peal he handed to Kalla.

France on Thurs­day ac­cused In­done­sia of “se­ri­ous dys­func­tion” in its legal sys­tem that led to French­man Serge At­laoui be­ing sen­tenced to death, and said his ex­e­cu­tion would be “in­com­pre­hen­si­ble.”

Velosa’s plight has been keenly felt in the Philip­pines, were around 100 pro­test­ers car­ry­ing “Save the life of Mary Jane” signs in the Ba­hasa In­done­sia lan­guage pick­eted Jakarta’s em­bassy in Manila.

“Mary Jane doesn’t have that much time. The (Philip­pine) gov­ern­ment must show de­ter­mi­na­tion to save her from death row,” Garry Martinez of the em­i­grants sup­port group Mi­grante told AFP.

Veloso claims a fam­ily friend, work­ing with an in­ter­na­tional crime gang, had se­cretly stashed heroin in her suit­case when she was ar­rested at Yogyakarta air­port in 2009.

AP

A mother car­ries her child as they join a rally out­side the In­done­sian Em­bassy in the fi­nan­cial dis­trict of Makati city, east of Manila, to ap­peal to the In­done­sian gov­ern­ment to spare the life of con­victed Filipino drug traf­ficker Mary Jane Veloso on Fri­day, April 24.

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