Monday, 13 October 2008

Bali bombers: One week to live?

[Update below]

Media reports are speculating the three convicted Bali bombers may be shot next week after the Indonesian government today announced it would make a statement about the executions next Friday, 24 October (also here).

According to one report, a spokesman for Attorney General Hendarman Supandji said there were "no obstacles" to prevent the executions, clearly referring to the current constitutional challenge by the three arguing that execution by firing squad amounts to "torture".

"The date and day of the execution of the three bombers will be announced next Friday by the attorney-general," a spokesman for the attorney-general's office said, according to another report by the AFP newsagency.

"We will make some preparations and coordination with the firing squad and other related parties like prison officials," Jasman Simanjuntak said.

The spokesman said the attorney general's office would provide details on the execution date next week.

Prosecutors and local officials have repeatedly announced in recent months that they were ready to carry out the executions when ordered (example here).

A spokesman for the attorney-general's office said last Friday the three would be executed before the end of the year.

Veil of secrecy?
Early media reports of the announcement speculated that the timing meant the three could be executed next week because "Indonesia typically announces executions after they have been carried out".

Death row prisoners in Indonesia are usually given 72 hours notice when a date is set, but the Indonesian government may attempt to maintain greater secrecy around these executions in order to prevent Islamist protests.

Given the media circus that has developed around the three convicted terrorists, any notice given to the men or their lawyers would certainly be made public. It would also likely trigger further legal manoeuvres by the lawyers and public statements by the three.

The government has also suggested recently it would move towards secret executions, with indications it would only reveal upcoming drug executions after they were carried out.

Before two Nigerian men were shot in June 2008 for drug offences, a government minister was quoted by the Antara newsagency suggesting Indonesia was planning to carry out further executions in secret to prevent public protests.

"The date of the execution is not to be made public to prevent public controversy," said Monang Pardede, assistant deputy to the General Crimes chief of the Central Java higher prosecutor's office.

According to Antara, he said the executions would not be publicised until after they were carried out, in order to prevent what the newsagency described as "undue public reactions".

"We are afraid we will face difficulties if they are announced beforehand," he said.

Update -- 14 October
The attorney general's office today denied reports the three would be executed before 24 October.

Spokesman Jasman Pandjaitan told Australia's ABC network that the details would be revealed next Friday but they would not be shot before then.

"No, not yet", he said."We're explaining on the 24th because we've received so many questions from the foreign media.

"We still don't know the exact time of the executions."

Related stories:
Uncertain when Islamist bombers will die -- 25 August 2008
Bali executions will inspire martyrs: expert -- 25 February 2008
Bali bombers may soon get their wish -- 10 November 2007
Bali: Execution closer for bombing leaders -- 09 October 2007
Bali bombers lodge appeals -- 08 December 2006
Execution delay for Bali bombers -- 21 August 2006
Bali bombers closer to execution -- 11 April 2006

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