Friday, 22 September 2006

Indonesia: Three executed in Sulawesi

The Indonesian government executed three men in Palu, central Sulawesi, early this morning, despite a campaign by Christian and Muslim leaders and the men's claims of innocence.

Police officers said Fabianus Tibo, Marianus Riwu and Dominggus Silva were shot by a firing squad before dawn, the first executions recorded by Amnesty International in Indonesia since May 2005.

The three Christians were convicted of orchestrating attacks on Muslim villages in a period of violence between the two communities that saw hundreds of people killed.

Indonesia's Antara newsagency reported that the bodies of Fabianus Tibo and Marianus Riwu were handed to their families at 9am local time, at Nuha village in East Luwuk district, South Sulawesi.

The BBC News report on the executions noted that: "Despite government denials, many Indonesians connect the timing of the men's deaths with the planned execution of three Muslim militants for their part in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, that killed more than 200 people.

Violence and calm
Antara also reported that that some violence broke out in Christian communities following the executions.

It said provincial police spokesman Major Marten Raja spoke with Deutsche Presse-Agentur by phone from Kupang, capital of East Nusa Tenggara province.

He reportedly said: "Some people expressed their anger after the executions by blocking some main roads and throwing rocks at the local attorney general's house."

BBC News reported that riots broke out in Sulawesi, with protesters "torching cars and looting shops", but Palu itself remained calm.

'Setback for human rights'
Human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI) said in a statement that the executions were "a serious setback for all those combating the use of death penalty across the world".

"Amnesty International is deeply disappointed that despite the debate about the use of the death penalty that the case had sparked throughout Indonesia in recent months, the executions of the three men went ahead."

The organisation said "state sanctioned killing is all the more unacceptable where, as in this case, there have been serious doubts about the fairness of the trial".

AI had received reports that the three men had not received a fair trial.

"In particular, there were concerns that witness testimony provided as evidence by the defence may have been ignored by the Court when giving its verdict.

"Further, there were demonstrators armed with stones outside the courthouse, demanding that the three be sentenced to death, and their legal representatives were subjected to intimidation including death threats," AI said.

'Strong fears'
According to AI, at least 90 people were believed to be under sentence of death in Indonesia and the organisation said today's executions raised "strong fears for the fate of all those who are currently awaiting execution".

Related stories:
Poso 3 may be shot tomorrow -- 20 September, 2006
Poso appeal may not have enough time -- 05 September, 2006
Indonesia: Poso executions delayed -- 12 August 2006
Indonesia: Six may soon be shot -- 10August 2006
Indonesia: Poso 3 facing imminent execution -- 16 May 2006

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