Tuesday, 5 September 2006

Poso appeal may not have enough time

Three Catholics on death row in Indonesia have lodged another appeal for clemency, but it may not be able to stop their execution.

An Indonesian government minister last week confirmed he had received an application from the three men.

But he said they were unlikely to be granted presidential clemency because the application had come too soon after their first appeal was rejected.

According to an AP story published in The Jakarta Post, State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra said: "I have received their appeal ... and will give it to the justice and human rights minister for consideration.

"But as far as I know, the law stipulates that a prisoner must wait two years to submit a new request for a presidential pardon."

Their first application was rejected by the President on 10 November 2005, just nine months ago.

Three 'will still die'
Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu were sentenced to death in April 2001, following violence between Christian and Muslim communities in Central Sulawesi in May 2000.

Their execution, planned for early on 12 August, was delayed at the last minute until after Indonesia's Independence Day celebrations on 17 August.

The head of the Police reiterated earlier government statements that the men would eventually be executed in accordance with the court's decision.

"It is only a matter of time. The court has decided that the execution should be carried out," National Police Chief Gen Sutanto told the Indonesian national news agency Antara News.

He said the timing of the executions would be set by the regional police chief and regional prosecutor's office.

Catholic appeal
Leaders and members of Indonesia's Catholic Church have issued a statement calling for the three to be spared and for investigations into the "real masterminds and perpetrators" of the riots.

The statement was issued on 25 August in Denpasar, Bali, during a pastoral meeting of dioceses from the Nusa Tenggara region.

The Indian Catholic reports the statement was signed by 7 bishops, 1 diocesan administrator, 47 priests, 60 laypeople and 15 members of the meeting's organising committee.

The statement said the men should not be executed "because there are many serious questions ... about the charges against them as the masterminds of the Poso riots".

It said that, according to the Christian faith, "the gift of life is the highest gift God gives to His creatures", and God has the power over life and death, not the state.

"We reject the death penalty in this country. Moreover, our country has ratified the U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which approves and upholds each person's right to life."

Christian leaders have yet to make a similar high-profile appeal for the lives of at least 19 other people who are facing imminent execution in Indonesia for drug and terrorist offences.

Related stories:
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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