Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Mary Jane Veloso: How a 30-year-old Filipina ended up on death row in Indonesia

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso
Mary Jane Veloso, 30, was caught trafficking drugs when her flight from Malaysia landed in Jogjakarta in April 2010. She had on her 2.6 kilograms of heroin with a street value of US$500,000.

She was sentenced to death in October 2010 and the Philippine government has vowed to exhaust all means to save her. 

Her initial appeal for judicial review — she says she did not have a capable interpreter during her trial — was rejected last week and on Friday we reported that Indonesia is preparing to move her for execution

A second petition will be filed by the Philippine government.

Veloso's plight comes on the heels of another high-profile drug-trafficking case in Indonesia involving Bali Nine, a group called as such because its conspirators are [nine Australians arrested on 17 April 2005 in Bali, Indonesia, for planning to smuggle 8.3 kg of heroin valued at around 3.1 million US dollars from Indonesia to Australia.]

The alleged masterminds, Australian citizens Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, are set to be executed soon by gunfire despite top-level intercessions from the Australian government and human rights advocates.

These are what you need to know to better understand the case of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina on death row:

1. Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso is from the village of Caudillo near Cabanatuan City, where she grew up impoverished, with her parents and siblings. She is a single mother of two.

2. Among the siblings, it was only Mary Jane who was able to go to high school — but she only attended first year.

3. Instead, she seeked employment abroad as a domestic helper, lasting only 10 months in the United Arab Emirates because she fled when her employer tried to rape her.

4. At 25, she was going to try her luck again, this time as a domestic helper, a job she heard about from her kinakapatid Cristina. When she landed in Kuala Lumpur, however, Cristina told her the job was already filled but there was another vacancy in Jogjakarta in the island of Java if she was still interested?

5. Before the flight to Jogjakarta, Cristina took Veloso on a shopping spree where she bought her new clothes and luggage. They took the same flight but Cristina disappeared when Veloso's suitcase set off the security alarm while she was clearing customs.

6. Hidden inside Veloso's luggage was 2.6 kilograms of heroin wrapped in aluminum foil, with an estimated street value of US$500,000. She had been set up as a drug mule and was arrested by the police in April 2010. In October 2010, she was convicted as a drug trafficker and sentenced to death. There was no word on her execution during the term of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. But Joko Widowo, Indonesia's new president since October 2014, has been taking a hard stance on drugs and has denied presidential clemency for drug offenders.

7. Veloso's execution was deferred by the Indonesian government in February 2015 following a formal appeal from our Department of Foreign Affairs. Veloso claims she did not have a capable interpreter during her trial. Last month, the Indonesian government allowed her family — her mother, sister and two children — to see her in prison.

8. On Mar 26, Indonesia's supreme court rejected Veloso's appeal for a judicial review, with no explanation. According to a Reuters report, the Indonesian government is now preparing to move Mary Jane from Yogyakarta to the maximum security prison on Nusakambangan Island in Central Java.

9. The date of her execution has yet to be announced.

10. Veloso's plight comes on the heels of another high-profile drug-trafficking case in Indonesia involving a group dubbed Bali Nine. They were attempting to smuggle 8.3 kilograms of heroin out of Bali in 2005. Despite pressure from international media and appeals from the Australian government on behalf of the two Australian ringleaders in the group, their execution by gunfire has not been overturned.

VP pushes 2nd plea for Pinay in Jakarta

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay on Sunday said the Philippine government will file a 2nd petition for judicial review of the case of a Filipino who was sentenced to die by firing squad for smuggling heroin to Indonesia.

In a meeting with the parents of the convict at the Makati City Hall, Binay assured them the government is exhausting all legal remedies and options to save their daughter Jane Veloso.

Binay, Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, informed Veloso's parents--Celia and Cesar Veloso -- about the government's next move to spare their daughter from the death penalty.

During the meeting, Binay called up Assistant Secretary Minda Calaguian-Cruz of the Department of Foreign Affairs' Office of Asia & Pacific Affairs who told him about a 2nd petition for judicial review.

"Let us check what we can do. (Veloso) is a 1st time offender and a widow with 2 young children," the Vice President told Calaguian-Cruz.

Jakarta has said it will wait for any outstanding legal appeals to conclude before executing all 10 drug convicts - including Veloso - at the same time.

Veloso was arrested at Java's Yogyakarta Airport in April 2010 for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage.

An emotional Celia denied the heroin seized from her daughter's luggage belonged to her. She stressed it was discreetly placed there by a certain Christine, who she said, was the wife of her daughter's godbrother.

"My daughter did not know about it. She wasn't aware," the grieving mother told Binay.

She said her daughter was just carrying 2 small bags. But she said Christine was indeed clever and tricked her by buying several clothes for her daughter.

When her daughter was about to leave for Indonesia, Christine gaver her a luggage, where she supposedly placed all the clothes she bought for her.

The victim's parents sought the help of the Vice President after the Indonesian Supreme Court rejected the Philippine government's request for a judicial review of Veloso's case.

In an earlier appeal for judicial review, Veloso's lawyers argued the convict was not provided with a capable translator during her trial.

Binay recently renewed his appeal to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to commute the death sentence of Veloso.

He also wrote Widodo earlier this month to "convey to him the Filipinos's hope and prayers that the Indonesia Supreme Court of Indonesia will look kindly and with compassion on the circumstances surrounding the case of Veloso.

Source: Manila Standard Today, March 30, 2015

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