Sunday, 9 November 2008

Indonesia executes Islamist terrorists

Indonesian firing squads killed three men for terrorism offences shortly after midnight this morning.

Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, Ali Ghufron (also known as Mukhlas) and Imam Samudra were shot simultaneously by separate firing squads for organising the October 2002 Bali bombing.

"At 12.15am, the convicts ... were executed by shooting and followed up with an autopsy," said Jasman Pandjaitan, a spokesman for Indonesia's attorney general's office, according to a report in The Australian.

"They have been stated as dead. At this moment the bodies are being washed by the family."

They were executed on Nusakambangan Island in Central Java, near the high security prison where they had been held.

Their bodies were taken to the mainland and then flown by helicopter to their home villages in East and West Java. Police struggled to maintain order when the bodies were greeted by family and hundreds of supporters for Muslim burials.

Last night's events brought to a head weeks of feverish speculation, fuelled by rumours the executions were imminent, contradictory statements from government officials and intense coverage by foreign journalists.

At different times the delays were attributed to a lack of bureaucratic coordination, successive nights of rain or claims the government was unwilling to provoke Islamic extremists by carrying out the sentences.

The three men were reportedly frustrated at the delays and keen for their "martyrdom" to proceed.

The executions bring to ten the number of people known to have been put to death in Indonesia in the past five months. This represents a dramatic increase in the country's use of the death penalty when compared with the nine people executed in the four years to 2007.

Some victims oppose death
The 2002 bombings of two Bali nightclubs killed 202 people and injured 88, leaving many with severe burns.

While some victims welcomed news of the executions, others remained opposed the death penalty.

Australian Barbara Hackett, whose daughter Kathy Salvatori was killed in the bombings, said she did not believe in the death penalty, according to one report.

"It can't bring back Kathy or the other 201 victims," she said.

Georgia Lysaght, who lost her older brother Scott, said the executions would not bring him back.
"The fact that it has happened doesn't bring Scott back, it doesn't change what's happened, it doesn't bring any sense of closure," she said.

"It doesn't make me feel that justice has been served. The only just thing to do would to be able to see my brother again, and that is not going to happen."

According to a report in The Times, several UK families also spoke out against the death penalty for the convicted terrorists.

Susanna Miller, who lost her brother Dan, said: "The death penalty is an 18th-century punishment. My brother was a lawyer, he would have disapproved.

"Also, these men were low-level terrorists, the bigger ones are at large. They should have been given life sentences."

Maggie Stephens lost her 27 year-old son Neil Bowler in the bombings.

"By executing them we are doing to them what they did to us," she said.

Related stories:
Indonesia: Human rights appeals for bombers -- 02 November 2008
Execution wrong - even for terrorists -- 31 October 2008
Bali bombers: One week to live? -- 13 October 2008
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

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