Indonesia executes eight
Seven foreigners are among drug convicts killed. A Filipina is spared for now.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Ignoring international pressure and heart-wrenching last-minute family pleas for clemency, Indonesia executed eight men on drug charges early Wednesday, Indonesian news media reported.
However, authorities said they had spared for now a female prisoner from the Philippines who had been scheduled to die.
Officials did not release an immediate statement confirming the executions of seven foreigners and an Indonesian. News reports cited unnamed officials, and Amnesty International said it had received confirmation of the executions. The Brazilian Foreign Ministry said its one citizen among the condemned had been put to death.
Todung Mulya Lubis, a lawyer for the two Australian prisoners sentenced to death, issued a statement on Twitter. “I failed. I lost,” he tweeted. In a later tweet, he added: “I’m sorry.”
Gunshots were heard about 12:30 a.m. from Nusakambangan island, where executions take place, the Associated Press reported.
The European Union and governments of France and Australia had urged President Joko Widodo on Tuesday to halt the proceedings.
“It is not too late to change your mind,” they said in a statement. “Forgiveness and rehabilitation are fundamental to the Indonesian judicial system as well as in our system.”
A spokesman for Indonesia’s attorney general confirmed that one of the prisoners, Mary Jane Veloso, had been granted a temporary stay of execution to allow her to testify at a trial in the Philippines. “The execution of Mary Jane has been postponed due to the request of the Philippines president in relation to an alleged human trafficker who recently gave herself up in the Philippines,” Tony Spontana told reporters.
The delay was to allow testimony at the trial of Maria Kristina Sergio, who is accused of having lured Veloso into unknowingly smuggling heroin into Indonesia.
Veloso said she was going there for work and was given a suitcase. Although it seemed heavy, she said, she checked inside and found nothing.
On Tuesday afternoon, before Veloso received a stay of execution, family members met with the nine condemned prisoners and later pleaded for Joko to spare their lives.
“I saw today something that no other family should ever have to go through,” Michael Chan of Australia, the brother of Andrew Chan, told journalists after saying farewell to his brother in prison. “Nine families inside a prison saying goodbye to their loved ones. Kids, mothers, brothers, cousins, sisters, you name it, they were all there. To walk out of there and say goodbye for the last time, it’s torture.
“There has to be a moratorium on the death penalty,” he said.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the “ghastly process” endured by the families of the condemned Australians underscored how chaotic the leadup to the executions had been.
“They do deserve respect and they do deserve to have dignity shown to them at this time of unspeakable grief, but that doesn’t seem to have been extended to them at this time,” Bishop said on Australian television shortly before the executions.
Earlier Tuesday, Australian Atty. Gen. George Brandis called on Indonesia to halt the executions while legal proceedings relevant to the cases of Chan and countryman Myuran Sukumaran were continuing, including allegations that judges in their trial demanded a bribe for a sentence of less than 20 years.
“These proceedings raise serious questions regarding the integrity of the two men’s initial sentence and the clemency process,” Brandis said in a statement Tuesday. “It is important that these actions are heard in full before any further steps are taken.”
Sukumaran’s mother, Raji, and sister Brintha wept uncontrollably as they begged for clemency after saying farewell to him in Besi prison. “I just had to say goodbye to my son, and I won’t see him again,” the mother told reporters between sobs. “Please, Mr. President, please don’t kill my son. Please don’t.”
Supporters held candlelight vigils and circulated online petitions calling for mercy.
Chan was recently ordained as a pastor. Sukumaran took up painting in jail and gave art lessons. Nigerian gospel singer Okwudili Oyatanze recorded songs in prison.
Lawyers for Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte said he should be spared because he suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Indonesian laborer Zainal Abidin was arrested after an acquaintance arrived at his home with sacks he said held rice. Police raided the house and found marijuana in the bags.
Indonesia has this year seen a sharp increase in executions for drug crimes under Joko, who has declared that the country is suffering from a drug emergency and in recent months has rejected all clemency bids by drug offenders.
In January, Indonesia executed five foreigners and one Indonesian for drug offenses, sparking international condemnation.
BRINTHA SUKUMARAN, distraught sister of Australian prisoner Myuran Sukumaran, arrives in Indonesia before his execution.