Execution date of drug convicts still uncertain: AGO

Execution date of drug convicts still uncertain: AGO
Complaint unheeded: Australia’s consul general to Bali, Majell Hind (right), and lawyer Julian McMahon arrive in Cilacap, Central Java, Friday after visiting Australian death row prisoners on the Nusakambangan prison island, to which Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran had been transferred from a Bali prison. Australia has formally complained to Indonesia about the planned executions.

The Attorney General's Office (AGO) remains tight-lipped about when the executions of several drug convicts will be carried out, even though almost a dozen have already been transferred to the Nusakambangan prison island south of Cilacap, Central Java.

AGO spokesman Tony Spontana confirmed on Friday that nine death row convicts - including two Australian members of the Bali Nine drug ring - had arrived on the island, but said it did not mean the convicts would face firing squads any time soon.

"I can only confirm that the executions will not be conducted this week. I cannot even guarantee that they will be conducted this month," he said at the AGO headquarters in South Jakarta.

Many have speculated that the convicts would be executed this weekend as the six people who were executed in January were transferred to the Nusakambangan prison island only three days before they were shot to death.

However, execution procedures described in Law No. 2/1964 only specify that a convict must be told when he or she will be executed at least three days prior to the sentence being carried out.

Tony noted that death row drug convict Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso of the Philippines - who was arrested in Yogyakarta on April 25, 2010, for the possession of 2.5 kilograms of heroin - had not yet been transferred to the island because the AGO was still waiting for the results of a judicial review conducted by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

He also said that the AGO was still waiting for a medical report from the Central Java Police to acknowledge that Rodrigo Gularte has a history of suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as has been stated by his family and confirmed by doctors from the Cilacap General Hospital in Central Java.

Separately, lawyers of several of the death row convicts have urged the government to postpone the executions.

The lawyer of Nigerian convict Raheem Agbaje Salami, Ursa Supit, visited her client at the Nusakambangan prison Island on Friday. Ursa said that Salami's legal team was still trying to get their client released.

"Although we don't know the results, we are still making a maximum effort for our client. Raheem is actually still going through a trial at the Surabaya State Administrative Court [PTUN] until today," she said.

Ursa added that they were also trying to contact Salami's family through the Nigerian embassy. The family had confirmed they would soon visit Salami.

Salami was arrested in possession of 5.2 kilograms of heroin at Juanda Airport in Surabaya, East Java, in 1997 and was sentenced in 1999.

The lawyers of the only Indonesian who is to be executed in this group, Zainal Abidin, were also seen visiting their client. One of the lawyers, Ade Yuliawan, brought a letter from the Palembang District Court that states that Zainal's petition for a judicial review was still being processed at the Supreme Court.

"How can you execute someone whose legal process is not finished yet? Our client filed for a judicial review more than 15 years ago and it still hasn't been answered," she said.

The specific date of the executions is not the only thing that has caught the public's attention. A photograph of the Denpasar Police chief smiling while standing next to Chan and Sukumaran on board the plane used to transport them from Bali to Nusakambangan Island has spread like wildfire.

According to Agence France-Presse, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressed outrage at the photograph.

"I thought they were unbecoming and showed a lack of respect and dignity and we have protested to the Indonesian ambassador here in Canberra," he told reporters.

The AGO did not feel it was responsible for the pictures, Tony Spontana said.

"You should ask the person who took the photograph, not us. The photograph came from the media; the AGO has never published such photos," he said.

In Berlin, the UN human rights office has called on Indonesia to refrain from executing convicted drug smugglers, saying that the death penalty will not stop narcotic trafficking, the Associated Press reported.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has said, "There is no evidence that the death penalty deters drug crimes."

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the Geneva-based agency, said Friday that Indonesia should exercise its right to grant the convicts clemency.

He said carrying out the executions would weaken Indonesia's position when arguing on behalf of its own nationals facing the death penalty abroad.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.