Priest who counselled Rodrigo Gularte – who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – says he tried in vain for three days to explain to the inmate he was about to die
A Brazilian man executed by firing squad along with seven other prisoners in Indonesia on Wednesday had no idea he was about to be killed until his final minutes, the priest who counselled him has said.
He also revealed that Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino woman who won a dramatic reprieve, had been aware a new suspect in her case had surrendered to police but was only removed from the prison about an hour before the killings.
Rodrigo Gularte, 42, was shot dead alongside seven others, including four Nigerians, two Australians and an Indonesian, for smuggling cocaine into Indonesia in 2004.
Doctors had diagnosed the Brazilian with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A second diagnosis, commissioned by Indonesia’s attorney general, has not been made public.
Father Charlie Burrows, a priest who ministers to prisoners in Cilacap, said he had tried in vain to explain to Gularte for three days that he was about to be killed.
|Mary Jane Veloso|
Burrows told Guardian Australia that guards on Nusa Kambangan, the prison island where Indonesia executes convicts, had broken down crying when 30-year-old Mary Jane Veloso said goodbye to her two children for what was thought to be the final time.
He said Veloso had shown “a false sense of joy” during her final visit with her family and sons, aged 12 and six, but broke down at 2pm on Tuesday when told it was time to say goodbye. “She begged for more time, ‘Will I not get longer with my children? They’ll never see me again, I’ll never see them again,’” Burrows said.
“The whole place broke down in tears. The warden and attorneys felt real bad about it. They said to me they didn’t agree with the thing, they just had to do their job, that there should be a moratorium.”
It was between 10pm and 11pm, when the prisoners were locked in their cells for the final time, that she was taken away. “We were in the cells, just the time they give to the spiritual companions, and they took her out,” Burrows said.
“In the last minute she was actually in the cell with the police, there was three police, and they took her out back to Yogyakarta.”
Just after 11pm the prisoners were taken individually from the cells and driven to the execution site. They would not have been aware Veloso had been spared until they assembled at the firing range, he said.
He said the two Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, led hymns among the prisoners as they waited to be killed, joined by their spiritual advisers 30 metres away.
Source: The Guardian, Michael Safi, April 30, 2015
Bali Nine: 'Very strong' Chan and Sukumaran 'died a respectful death' says priest
Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were determined to die with dignity to avoid causing their parents unnecessary distress, according to a priest who was present when the men went to face the firing squad.
The condemned men were tied to poles before being executed.
Father Burrows said that was to ensure the prisoners did not move around and to ensure the firing squad's aim was true.
"They were all very strong, the whole group was singing hymns ... and they chose to not be blindfolded.
"The whole idea of being strong at the execution time was to cause less suffering to the parents.
"If they heard their sons were screaming, that would really make life a lot more difficult.
"And there wasn't any screaming ... and they died a respectful death."
The men's families released a statement after the executions, saying they were immensely grateful for all the support they had received.
"Today we lost Myuran and Andrew. Our sons, our brothers. In the 10 years since they were arrested, they did all they could to make amends, helping many others. They asked for mercy, but there was none. They were immensely grateful for all the support they received. We too, will be forever grateful," the statement said.
Father Burrows said Gularte, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, did not understand what was happening to him until his final moments.
Brazil had made repeated personal pleas for Indonesia to commute his sentence on humanitarian grounds, citing his mental illness.
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Source: abc.net.au, April 30, 2015
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