Lawyers vow fight af­ter French death-row in­mate loses ap­peal in In­done­sia


A French drug con­vict lost an ap­peal against his death sen­tence Mon­day, but his lawyers vowed to fight on and pre­vent another for­eigner from fac­ing the fir­ing squad in In­done­sia af­ter a se­ries of ex­e­cu­tions that gen­er­ated an in­ter­na­tional up­roar.

Serge At­laoui, 51, was due to be ex­e­cuted along­side seven other for­eign drug of­fend­ers two months ago but won a tem­po­rary re­prieve af­ter Paris stepped up pres­sure, with author­i­ties agree­ing to let an out­stand­ing ap­peal run its course.

The ex­e­cu­tion in April of two Aus­tralians, a Brazil­ian and four Nige­ri­ans sparked global anger. But Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo in­sists con­victed traf­fick­ers must be harshly pun­ished, say­ing In­done­sia is fac­ing a cri­sis due to ris­ing drug use.

On Mon­day the State Ad­min­is­tra­tive Court in Jakarta dis­missed At­laoui’s latest ap­peal, in which his lawyers ar­gued that the pres­i­dent re­jected the con­vict’s plea for clemency with­out proper con­sid­er­a­tion.

The court up­held its pre­vi­ous de­ci­sion from April that it did not have the ju­ris­dic­tion to hear the chal­lenge to the clemency plea, which is typ­i­cally a death row con­vict’s fi­nal chance to avoid ex­e­cu­tion.

“We are dis­ap­pointed with the de­ci­sion but we will con­tinue to find other le­gal av­enues,” At­laoui’s lawyer Nancy Yuliana told re­porters, adding that the le­gal team was still con­sid­er­ing its next steps.

“From the very be­gin­ning, we knew that he was in­no­cent ... We are not ask­ing for him to be set free, we are just ask­ing for his sen­tence to be re­duced to life im­pris­on­ment.”

Tony Spon­tana, a spokesman for the at­tor­ney- gen­eral’s of­fice, which is in charge of ex­e­cu­tions, told AFP that the author­i­ties “ap­pre­ci­ate this de­ci­sion.”

How­ever he sig­naled the ex­e­cu­tion would not hap­pen dur­ing Is­lam’s holi­est month, Ramadan, which ends mid- July in the world’s most pop­u­lous Mus­lim­ma­jor­ity coun­try.

“I think it’s not a wise de­ci­sion to carry out an ex­e­cu­tion in Ramadan,” he said.

Se­cret Drugs Fac­tory

At­laoui, a welder, was ar­rested in 2005 in a se­cret drugs fac­tory out­side Jakarta, with author­i­ties ac­cus­ing him of be­ing a “chemist” at the site.

But the fa­ther of four has main­tained his i nno­cence, claim­ing that he was in­stalling ma­chin­ery in what he thought was an acrylics plant.

He was ini­tially sen­tenced to life in prison but the Supreme Court in­creased the sen­tence to death on ap­peal.

France has mounted a diplo­matic cam­paign to save him, warn­ing Jakarta of un­spec­i­fied con­se­quences if he is put to death and ques­tion­ing In­done­sia’s le­gal sys­tem, which has a rep­u­ta­tion as deeply cor­rupt.

Fol­low­ing Mon­day’s de­ci­sion, France’s Euro­pean Af­fairs Min­is­ter Har­lem De­sir said “the whole of the French diplo­matic ser­vice” was be­ing mo­bi­lized to save At­laoui.

“I want to re­state our de­ter­mi­na­tion to fight against the death penalty ev­ery­where in the world and, of course, to save the life of our com­pa­triot,” the min­is­ter told French tele­vi­sion.

French For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius said in a state­ment he would speak very soon to At­laoui’s wife. He re­it­er­ated France’s “strong op­po­si­tion to the death penalty in all places and in all cir­cum­stances.”

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