In­done­sian ex­e­cu­tions spark int’l anger


In­done­sia faced a storm of in­ter­na­tional protest Wed­nes­day for putting seven for­eign drug con­victs be­fore a fir­ing squad, but Filipinos re­joiced af­ter a com­pa­triot was spared at the last minute.

Australia with­drew its am­bas­sador in protest at what it called “cruel and un­nec­es­sary” ex­e­cu­tions, Brazil ex­pressed strong re­gret and France vowed a diplo­matic battle to save a cit­i­zen still on death row.

In­done­sia staunchly de­fended the ex­e­cu­tions as a vi­tal front of its “war” on drugs, as tes­ti­mony emerged of how the con­demned men went singing to their deaths.

The seven — two from Australia, one from Brazil and four from Africa — were shot along with one In­done­sian, de­spite stri­dent for­eign ap­peals and pleas from fam­ily mem­bers.

Brazil ex­pressed “deep re­gret” at the ex­e­cu­tion of its na­tional, who is men­tally ill ac­cord­ing to his fam­ily, and said it was weigh­ing its next move.

The con­demned men re­port­edly all re­fused blind­folds and sang hymns, among them “Amaz­ing Grace,” as they went to face the fir­ing squad in a jun­gle clear­ing, ac­cord­ing to a pas­tor who was with them.

As the clock ticked down to mid­night, a group of tear­ful sup­port­ers also sang hymns, em­braced and held can­dles aloft dur­ing a vigil at the port in Ci­la­cap, the gate­way to the pri­son is­land of Nusakam­ban­gan.

A Filip­ina orig­i­nally set to be ex­e­cuted was given an 11th hour re­prieve af­ter a woman who al­legedly duped her into fer­ry­ing drugs to In­done­sia came for­ward to po­lice in the Philip­pines.

The re­prieve for Mary Jane Veloso was hailed in the Philip­pines as a mir­a­cle and a gift from God, but In­done­sian At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Muham­mad Prase­tyo stressed it was only a “post­pone­ment” to al­low time for po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Prase­tyo also played down Australia’s de­ci­sion to re­call its am­bas­sador, de­scrib­ing it as a “tem­po­rary re­ac­tion,” while For­eign Min­is­ter Retno Mar­sudi stressed Jakarta’s de­sire to “con­tinue hav­ing good re­la­tions” with one of its most im­por­tant trad­ing part­ners.

There were al­ready signs of fall­out Wed­nes­day with for­mer In­done­sian pres­i­dent Susilo Bam­bang Yud­hoy­ono can­cel­ing a trip to Perth, cit­ing con­cern about re­ac­tion to the ex­e­cu­tions. Jakarta stocks closed down 2.34 per­cent due in part to the ef­fect of the death sen­tences on in­vestor sen­ti­ment.

Plain Coffins

The bod­ies of Chan and Suku­maran, in plain wooden coffins, ar­rived in Jakarta af­ter be­ing driven from Ci­la­cap in two am- bu­lances. They were taken to a fu­neral home and will soon be flown back to Australia for burial.

Lit­tle is known about the other four ex­e­cuted for­eign­ers — three of them are from Nige­ria but it is not clear whether the fourth held Ghana­ian or Nige­rian na­tion­al­ity.

France said Wed­nes­day it was mo­bi­liz­ing all diplo­matic op­tions to try to save Serge At­laoui.

The 51- year- old French­man was orig­i­nally among the group set to be ex­e­cuted but was granted a tem­po­rary re­prieve af­ter In­done­sia agreed to al­low an out­stand­ing legal ap­peal to run its course.

“Full diplo­matic ef­forts con­tinue on this is­sue,” For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius told a cabi­net meet­ing.

French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande has warned that In­done­sia would face diplo­matic “con­se­quences” if it ex­e­cutes At­laoui.

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