Saturday, 12 August 2006

Indonesia: Poso executions delayed

Three Indonesian Catholics who were scheduled to be executed at 12.15 this morning [12 August] at a secret location in Central Sulawesi were granted a last-minute reprieve.

Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu were less than an hour away from being shot by firing squad, when Indonesian officials announced they would now be executed after Independence Day celebrations on 17 August.

Reports suggested the three men had been given the last rites and doctors were waiting to travel to the execution site to pronounce them dead.

The Jakarta Post reported that National Police chief Gen. Sutanto made the announcement following a limited Cabinet meeting late on Friday with chief security minister Widodo A.S., Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin and Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh.

According to The Jakarta Post, "Sutanto said the decision was based on consultation with the Central Sulawesi Police, local administration and prosecutor's office."

Gen. Sutanto stressed the executions had not been cancelled, simply delayed.

"It's only a matter of the timing. The decision must be carried out, and those who are guilty must follow their sentence," he said.

One report said they would be executed on 20 August at the earliest.

Papal appeal denied
The executions were delayed following an appeal for clemency from the Pope, although the Indonesian Government denied the postponement was a response to foreign pressure.

In a letter to President Yudhoyono on Friday, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano said on behalf of the Pope that clemency should be granted "on humanitarian grounds".
[See below for the full text of the Vatican's appeal.]

The Jakarta Post reported that Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda on Saturday denied the appeals for clemency had caused the delay.

"We postponed the executions but we did not cancel them because we are a sovereign country. It was only a postponement," Hassan was quoted as saying.

"There are a lot of letters asking for postponement including apparently from the Vatican."

Political trade off?
The three men were convicted of inciting sectarian violence between Christian Muslim communities in Poso in Central Sulawesi, in which hundreds of Muslims were killed.

They have denied the charges, and their lawyers claimed to have evidence demonstrating that 16 other men had masterminded the violence. They said the three men would in be fact key witnesses in the event that the true perpetrators were brought to justice.

Amnesty International has expressed its concern at "reports indicating that the trial of the three men in Palu District Court did not meet international standards of fairness".

Some analysts have suggested the Indonesian Government was now moving to execute the three Catholics in a political trade off between the Muslim and Christian communities. The government is also planning to execute three Muslim militants in the coming weeks for the October 2002 Bali nightclub bombings.

Appeal from the Pope

Text of the Vatican appeal for clemency, from the website of the Vatican news service:

Telegram from the Holy Father

His Excellency
Susilo Yudhoyono
President of the Republic of Indonesia

I am writing to you in regard to the imminent executions of Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu. In the name of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI I turn to you again, Your Excellency, to seek your intervention on humanitarian grounds, and in light of the particularity of the case, in order that an act of clemency might be granted to these three Catholic citizens of your nation. In adding my voice to others I would also note the position of the Catholic Church which on numerous occasions has spoken out against the death penalty. Trusting that this appeal made on behalf of His Holiness will meet with a positive outcome, I extend to you my sentiments of esteem.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Secretary of State

[Original text: English]

Related stories:
Indonesia: Six may soon be shot -- 10August 2006
Indonesia: Poso 3 facing imminent execution -- 16 May 2006

1 comment:

SVaz said...

I agree with you been against death penalty, but i have to remember you that the "country of freedom" the country that "spreads" freedom on the world (usa) is the world leading executioner.