In­done­sia ex­e­cutes eight

Seven for­eign­ers are among drug con­victs killed. A Filip­ina is spared for now.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Robyn Dixon robyn.dixon@la­

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.

Ulet Ifansasti Getty Images

BRINTHA SUKU­MARAN, dis­traught sis­ter of Aus­tralian prisoner Myu­ran Suku­maran, ar­rives in In­done­sia be­fore his ex­e­cu­tion.

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