|Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso|
Indonesian President Joko Widodo is "sympathetic" about the plight of a Filipina facing death for drug trafficking and has promised to look into her case, a spokesman for Philippine President Benigno Aquino said Monday after he made a personal appeal.
While the comments seemed to indicate a faint prospect of reprieve for Mary Jane Veloso, the Indonesian leader is seen as extremely unlikely to change course on the executions which he has insisted for months are essential to halting a national drugs crisis.
Veloso, a 30-year-old single mother of two boys, is due to face an Indonesian firing squad on Tuesday.
She is among eight foreigners facing execution in Indonesia, which has come under international pressure to spare them.
Aquino made his appeal in person on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) being held this year in Malaysia, his spokesman Herminio Coloma said.
"President Aquino talked with President Widodo earlier this morning and appealed for humanitarian consideration for Mary Jane Veloso, who was apparently duped into being an unwitting carrier of illegal drugs," Coloma said in a text message.
"(Aquino) said President Widodo was sympathetic and was consulting with the Indonesian Attorney General on the legal issues."
Coloma said Widodo promised to discuss the issue again later on Monday, when the summit that started in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur in the morning shifts to the resort island of Langkawi.
Asked if there was hope Veloso could be spared, Coloma said: "So long as there is life, there is hope."
Veloso was arrested in 2009 with 2.6 kilograms (5.7 pounds) of heroin sewn into the lining of her suitcase.
She insists she went to Indonesia for a job as a maid and was duped by an international drug syndicate.
The Philippines has sought to have a second judicial review of her case, citing evidence that she was a human trafficking victim, not a drug smuggler.
But this weekend, Veloso's lawyer said she had been informed that she would be put to death on April 28.
Source: Agence France-Presse, April 27, 2015
Bali Nine: diplomatic effort intensifies for Australians and other foreigners due to face firing squad
Last-ditch diplomatic efforts to spare some of the eight foreign nationals scheduled to face a firing squad in Indonesia for drug offences have intensified as the end of a 72-hour notice period looms.
Along with Indonesian Zainul Abidin, four Nigerians, two Australians, a Brazilian and a Philippines citizen could be shot as early as midnight on Tuesday local time.
The condemned include Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, for their part in the plot to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin from Bali in 2005.
Hopes have been raised that 30-year-old Filipina Mary Jane Veloso could be spared following lobbying on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Kuala Lumpur by the Philippines president Benigno Aquino.
A statement on Monday from the Indonesian president Joko Widodo indicated he was sympathetic to her case and would consult with the country’s attorney general before “resum[ing] the conversation” with Aquino.
Supporters of Veloso claim the single mother was unaware her suitcase contained about 2.6kg of heroin when she flew into Yogyakarta in 2010.
Relations between Jakarta and Canberra have frayed over plans to execute Chan and Sukumaran. The Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has been trying to speak with Widodo by phone for seven weeks, and wrote a letter to the Indonesian leader at the weekend, appealing for mercy.
Julie Bishop, the Australian foreign minister, warned on Monday that carrying out the mass execution would “harm Indonesia’s international standing”.
“I’ve called on the president of Indonesia to reconsider his refusal to grant clemency and I do not believe it is too late for a change of heart,” she said, raising the fact that Widodo has campaigned to spare Indonesian citizens on death row around the world.
“I ask no more of Indonesia than it has asked of other nations where Indonesian citizens are on death row, including for serious drug offences,” she said.
Protesters massed outside the Indonesian consulate in Sydney on Monday evening. The former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yuhyohono has cancelled an address to the University of Western Australia that was scheduled for Friday, citing “sensitive timing”.
Source: The Guardian, Michael Safi, April 27, 2015
Bali nine pair Chan and Sukumaran choose their execution witnesses
The families of Bali nine pair Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan have received the news they were dreading - they will be forced to say their final farewells on Tuesday afternoon.
The Australians have put in a request for the spiritual advisers who will be alone with them in their final hours before death.
Sukumaran has asked long-time friend and supporter Christie Buckingham, a senior pastor from Melbourne's Bayside Church, who has been visiting both men for years.
Chan has nominated Salvation Army minister and family friend David Soper.
They also have the harrowing role of bearing witness at their executions.
Indonesian authorities will need to approve their requests.
The men's Indonesian lawyer, Leonard Arpan, said prosecutors had informed them they must leave Nusakambangan, known as death island, for the last time about 2pm.
The men will be tied to wooden planks in a field and shot about midnight.
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Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfield, April 27, 2015
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