Philippines Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso Escapes Indonesian Firing Squad
JAKARTA – Indonesia executed eight drug convicts by firing squad in Central Java early Wednesday, despite efforts from human rights activists and united appeals from world leaders to stop the execution.
Those executed were “Bali Nine” duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, both Australians; Rodrigo Gularte, a Brazilian diagnosed with a mental illness; Martin Anderson of Ghana, Raheem Agbaje Salami, Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise and Okwudili Oyatanze of Nigeria; and Indonesian national Zainal Abidin.
An unnamed Cilacap Police officer told the Jakarta Post that after the executions, prayers were said for each person according to their respective religion.
“The executions went well, without any disruptions,” he said.
Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, 30, of the Philippines was saved after President Joko Widodo met with several activists and ministers early in the day following a report that a woman who recruited Veloso had surrendered herself to Philippine authorities.
A Frenchman, Serge Atlaoui, was initially part of the group, but was granted a temporary reprieve after his lawyer managed to file a final appeal before the execution preparations.
The executions were carried out on Nusa Kambangan penal island despite last minute appeals from Australia, France and the European Union to Widodo to halt the planned action just hours before.
“It is not too late for a change of heart,” the two countries and the European Union said in a statement.
“It is our honest hope that Indonesia can show mercy to the condemned prisoners.”
The statement, cited by the Jakarta Globe, added that the ideals of forgiveness and rehabilitation are just as fundamental to Indonesia’s justice system as they are to their own.
“In making this appeal, we ask that Indonesia also reflect on the impact on its global standing and international reputation. We support Indonesia’s efforts to secure clemency for its citizens abroad. Halting these executions would help its endeavors,” it said.
Australia, France and the EU also expressed their support for a recent statement by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in which he called for Indonesia to refrain from carrying out the executions and urged Widodo to urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia.
“We fully respect Indonesia’s sovereignty. But we are strongly opposed to the death penalty at home and abroad,” they said.
“These executions will not deter drug trafficking or stop others from falling victim to drug abuse. To execute these prisoners now would achieve nothing.”
Executioners and a total of 12 ambulances carrying coffins were deployed to Nusa Kambangan on Tuesday, police said.
France, Australia and Brazil had been the most vocal critics of Widodo’s decision to carry out the executions.
Australian Chan was married in prison on Monday ahead of his planned execution, according to a media report.
“Bali Nine” ringleader Chan married his Indonesian girlfriend Febiyanti Herewila in the maximum-security prison.
“They just got married. They held a simple wedding in the prison,” Chan’s brother, Michael, told news portal Detik.com.
Michael said his brother had decided to hold a simple wedding because he knew he didn’t have much time left.
“The time is limited and they knew there would be an execution on Tuesday. That’s why they decided to get married today,” he added.
Attorney General’s Office Spokesperson Tony Spontana said the government had agreed to the final requests fielded by the two Australians for their bodies to be flown to Australia for burial.
The execution is the second of foreign nationals this year.
On Jan. 18, six inmates from Indonesia, the Netherlands, Brazil, Nigeria, Vietnam and Malawi were also shot dead in Indonesia by firing squad.
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