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…

Indonesia executes 8 drug convicts; Filipina Mary Jane Veloso spared

Defying intense pressure from the international community, the government executed 8 death row prisoners early on Wednesday on Nusakambangan prison island near Cilacap in Central Java.

"We've carried out the executions," said an Attorney General's Office (AGO) official, talking to the press on condition of anonymity.

The 8 were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami and Okwudili Oyatanze, Ghanaian Martin Anderson.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso of the Philippines was spared after a woman who allegedly recruited her to act as a drug courier gave himself up to police in the Philippines on Tuesday.

"The executions were carried out at 12:30 a.m.," Suhendro Putro, funeral director with the Javanese Christian Church (GKJ) in Cilacap, said in a short message service.

AGO spokesman Tony Spontana said the government had agreed to the final requests fielded by 2 Australian death-row convicts for their bodies to be flown to Australia for burial.

A Cilacap Police officer said that after the executions, prayers were said for each person according to their respective religion. "The executions went well, without any disruptions," he said.

The AGO stated that the executions had been carried out after it had heard all 8 convicts' final requests.

The execution was the 2nd round after the 1st was carried out on Jan. 18, during which 6 inmates from Indonesia, the Netherlands, Brazil, Nigeria, Vietnam and Malawi were killed by firing squad.

Photo - Clockwise from top: Mary Jane Veloso, 30, Philippines, crime: smuggling heroin; Martin Anderson, 50, Nigeria, crime: possession of heroin; Serge Atlaoui, 51, France (reprieve), crime: running a narcotics factory; Zainal Abidin, 50, Indonesia, crime: marijuana possession with intent to distribute; Okwudili Oyatanze, 41, Nigeria, crime: smuggling heroin; Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise, 47, Nigeria, crime: smuggling heroin; Rodrigo Gularte, 42, Brazil, crime: smuggling cocaine; Andrew Chan, 31, Australia, crime: smuggling heroin; Jamiu Owolabi Abashin, 50, Nigeria, crime: smuggling heroin; Myuran Sukumaran, 34, Australia, crime: smuggling heroin.

Source: The Jakarta Post, April 28, 2015

Chan, Sukumaran executed by Indonesia

Myuran Sukumaran
Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have been executed by Indonesia.

The Jakarta Post, quoting an Attorney General's Office official, says 8 of the 9 prisoners on death row have been shot dead by firing squad. Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso of the Philippines was spared.

The Bali 9 drug smuggling ring leaders were executed by firing squad on the island of Nusakambangan just before 12.30am local time (0330 AEST) on Wednesday.

"We've carried out the executions," an AGO official, talking to the press on condition of anonymity, said, The Jakarta Post reported.

The others executed were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami and Okwudili Oyatanze, and Ghanaian Martin Anderson.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso of the Philippines was spared after a woman who allegedly recruited her to act as a drug courier gave himself up to police in the Philippines on Tuesday.

Indonesian TV networks TV One and Metro TV are reporting the executions were done at 25 minutes past midnight.

Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 34, are the first Australians to be executed since December 2, 2005, when 25-year-old Melbourne man Van Tuong Nguyen was hanged in Singapore after being caught at Changi Airport with almost 400g of heroin.

The families spent their final hours with their loved ones on Nusakambangan on Tuesday before returning to the port town of Cilacap.

Chan and Sukumaran were allowed to have their chosen spiritual guides with them in their last moments after Indonesian authorities had a change of heart.

Salvation Army minister David Soper and minister Christie Buckingham were to give Chan and Sukumaran solace and their last rites.

Australia's Consul General to Bali, Majell Hind, and lawyer Julian McMahon are also on Nusakambangan for official duties.

Mary Jane Veloso
Ms Hind will receive the bodies of Chan and Sukumaran and take legal responsibility for them on the island.

They will be driven to Jakarta by local ambulance with an Australian consular officer following the execution.

The Australians' bodies will then be flown back to Sydney.

A Cilacap police officer has told the Post prayers were said for each person according to their respective religion after the executions.

"The executions went well, without any disruptions," he said.

The AGO stated that the executions had been carried out after it had heard all 8 convicts final requests.

Michael Chan had earlier tweeted: "Counting down the minutes until I loose a great Friend and Courageous brother.!! You will never be forgotten by so many".

Source: The Australian, April 28, 2015

Defying International Outcry, Indonesia Executes Eight Drug Convicts

Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran
Jakarta. Indonesia in the early hours of Wednesday executed eight men for drug offenses, including seven foreign nationals, but the life of Philippines national Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso was unexpectedly spared, media reports said.

Defying calls from world leaders,“Bali Nine” ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, both Australians; Rodrigo Gularte, a Brazilian diagnosed with a mental illness; Raheem Agbaje Salami, Martin Anderson, Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise and Okwudili Oyatanze of Nigeria; and Indonesian national Zainal Abidin were shot by a firing squad not long after midnight.

The execution of Velosos apparently was delayed at the last minute due to new developments in the case against an alleged accomplice, against whom she may testify ,CNN Indonesia reported.

A Frenchman, Serge Atlaoui, was also initially part of the group of people to be executed this week, but he had been granted a temporary reprieve after his lawyer managed to file a final appeal.

President Joko Widodo and other senior officials have repeatedly said that the executions were necessary to end the drug emergency Indonesia is ostensibly facing. The measure however is likely to have severe consequences for Indonesia’s relations with nations such as Australia and Brazil, whose nationals were among those executed.

The executions were carried out on the colonial prison island of Nusakambangan, near Cilacap in Central Java.

Hours before the executions Australia, France and the European Union made a joint appeal to Joko call off the killings.

“It is not too late for a change of heart,” the two countries and the EU said in the statement. “It is our honest hope that Indonesia can show mercy to the condemned prisoners.”

The statement said 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,” the statement said. “These executions will not deter drug trafficking or stop others from falling victim to drug abuse.”

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week also called on Indonesia to refrain from carrying out the executions and urged Joko to urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment.

Source: The Jakarta Globe, April 29, 2015 (local time)

Bali 9 Executions: Authorities took 27 minutes to confirm Chan, Sukumaran deaths

It took 27 minutes for Indonesian authorities to confirm that the eight people executed on Nusakambangan, including Bali nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were deceased, according to local media reports.

News portal detik.com quoted spokesman for the Attorney-General Tony Spontana saying they were "shot at 00.35 and died at 01.02".

Whether it was a long agonising death remains uncertain, More likely, it took that amount of time for Indonesian doctors to check each of the victims.

Under Indonesian regulations, the commander of the firing squad will kill an execution victim with a bullet to the head if they don't die quickly at the hands of the 12-person firing squad.

The firing squad stands five to 10 metres away from their victim.

Mr Spontana said the eight men then had their bodies washed and the bullets removed from their heart and the wounds stitched up.

Prayers were said over the corpses, before they were taken to a mortuary on the penal island of Nusakambagan to be dressed and placed in a coffin.

Australia's Consul-General for Bali, Majell Hind, will formally take possession of the bodies of Chan and Sukumaran before they are transported by ambulance to a funeral home in Jakarta.

Families of the duo will follow the ambulance on the 12-hour journey.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Tom Allard, April 29, 2015 (local time)

'Bali 9' pair among 8 executed for drug offences in Indonesia

Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukuamaran: "A second chance"
Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumuran among 8 executed as high-level campaign for clemency failed to sway Indonesian president

The Indonesian government has executed 8 people for drug offences, including 2 Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumuran, who were the subject of a years-long campaign for clemency.

The development marks the end of years of campaigning to spare the men, who were sentenced to death in 2006 for their part in the "Bali 9" heroin-smuggling ring.

Also executed were 4 Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian. All had been convicted of drug crimes.

A 9th prisoner scheduled to face the firing squad, Philippines woman Mary Jane Veloso, received a last-minute temporary reprieve.

Hundreds had gathered at the port of Cilacap on Tuesday to watch lawyers and families make their final visits to the prisoners.

Police were forced to use dogs to clear the heavy media pack when Chan's and Sukumaran's visibly distressed relatives arrived. Sukumaran's sister, Brintha, collapsed in the melee and had to be carried into the port office by her father, Sam.

Speaking after their visit, Sukumaran's brother, Chinthu, again urged Indonesia to show mercy. "Please don't let my mum and my sister have to bury my brother," he said. Through tears, his mother, Raji, said: "I won't see my son again and they are going to take him tonight and shoot him and he is healthy and he is beautiful and he has a lot of compassion for other people.

"Please president, please don't kill him today. Please don't. Call off the execution. Please don't kill my son. Please don't."

Chan's brother, Andrew, said the family had gone through "torture". "I saw today something that no other family should ever have to go to. 9 families inside a prison saying goodbye to their loved ones," he said. "There has to be a moratorium on the death penalty, no family should endure it. Because now the family is going to have a grieving process for the rest of their life."

Angela Muxfeldt, cousin of the Brazilian, Rodrigo Gularte, said in the hours before his execution the 42-year-old was the calmest she had seen him in 3 months. "He is calm. He doesn't want I cry and doesn't believe execution will happen," she said, visibly emotional.

Rodrigo Gularte
Lawyers for Gularte were still lodging an appeal on Tuesday, claiming he suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and had been unfit to stand trial when sentenced to death for cocaine smuggling in 2005.

Chan and Sukumaran, too, have outstanding legal challenges, including a 12 May constitutional appeal on 12 May to a presidential decision in January to deny the men clemency, reportedly made without having even reviewed their files.

The others to be executed who were executed were Raheem Agbaje Salami (also known as Jamiu Owolabi Abashin), Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Martin Anderson and Okwuduli Oyatanze.

Veloso, who was arrested in Yogyakarta in 2010 with 2.6kg of heroin in her suitcase, was granted a stay of execution, after the woman she claims set her up "voluntarily surrendered" to police on Tuesday.

Maria Kristina Sergio, who was wanted for human trafficking and illegal recruitment in relation to the Veloso case, handed herself into police in the Philippines province of Nueva Ecija on Tuesday morning.

Veloso claims that Sergio enticed her to Malaysia with a job offer, where an associate known as "Ike" bought her a new suitcase and instructed her to run an "errand" to Indonesia, where police found the heroin stitched into the lining of her bag.

Sergio has consistently denied Veloso's account. A police inspector quoted by Indonesian media said Sergio had surrendered to "seek assistance for reason that she has been receiving death threats".

The other 8 were tied to wooden stakes and shot by 12 marksmen, 3 of whom carried live rounds. They aimed at crosses marked over the prisoners' hearts.

Months of high-level diplomatic representations and high-profile campaigns failed to sway the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, who has described narcotics as a "national emergency" and pledged to clear the country's death row of drug offenders.

6 people, 5 of them foreigners, were shot in a 1st round of executions in January. Official figures are unreliable, but following these most recent killings, it is estimated around 33 foreigners remain on death row in Indonesia for drug crimes.

Speaking hours before the executions, Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said she was "deeply disturbed" by Indonesia's handling of the matter and warned there "will have to be consequences".

Australia has never withdrawn diplomatic staff over an execution of a citizen abroad, but is reportedly considering all options. The human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, QC, called on Tuesday for some of the $600m Australia directs to Indonesia each year in foreign aid to be redirected to Nepal.

Brazil and the Netherlands withdrew their ambassadors following the January round of executions, which included their citizens, and Brazil has refused to accept the credentials of the new Indonesian ambassador.

Plans for Wednesday's executions attracted international condemnation, including from the UN secretary- general, Ban Ki-Moon, who called on Widodo to "urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia, with a view toward abolition".

The Council of Europe secretary- general, Thorbjorn Jagland, had also asked Indonesia to refrain, calling the death penalty "a terrible injustice which can never be put right".

On Tuesday, Australia, the European Union and France issued a joint statement asking Indonesia to "reflect on the impact [of the executions] on Indonesia's position in a globalised world and an international reputation".

"We support Indonesia's efforts to obtain forgiveness for its citizens abroad. Stopping this execution will help those efforts," the statement said.

Vigils were held across Australia for Chan, 31, and Sukumuran, 34, whose cause had been embraced by the country in their final months. Tarred as thugs for years after their capture, on death row the pair underwent sincere transformations, Chan converting to Christianity and Sukumaran emerging as an accomplished artist.

After earlier denying the pair their choice of spiritual counsellors, Indonesian authorities relented late on Tuesday, allowing pastors Christie Buckingham and David Soper to attend to the men in the final hours.

Sukumaran continued to paint up until his last day, producing a rendering of human heart signed by each nine of the prisoners who were scheduled to be shot in the early hours of Wednesday. It was titled, "1 heart, 1 feeling in love".

Source: The Guardian, April 29, 2015

'Miracles are real': Veloso spared from execution

The children and the family of Mary Jane Veloso
Convicted Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso was not among those executed by firing squad in Indonesia early Wednesday (Manila time).

The Jakarta Globe reported that Veloso was given a last-minute reprieve even as she was scheduled to face death penalty along with eight other inmates after midnight.

Among those executed were Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, three Nigerians, a Brazilian, a Ghanaian and an Indonesian.

Veloso's loved ones were elated upon news of what they deemed a "miracle."

"Totoo pong may himala na dumating sa buhay ng anak ko," Celia, Veloso's mother, said in an interview with dzMM.

"Hindi ako makapaniwala. Ang alam nga po namin kanina wala na talaga," Celia added.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose faced members of media around 2:30 a.m. to confirm the news.

Veloso, 30, was sentenced to death by an Indonesian court in 2010 for drug trafficking.

The Filipino worker was consistent in claiming that she was innocent and that her recruiter framed her.

Alleged recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio voluntarily surrendered at the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office on Tuesday morning, hours before the expiration of Indonesia's 72-hour execution notice.

The National Bureau of Investigation earlier filed charges against Sergio and two other for drug trafficking and illegal recruitment.

Source: Philippine Star, April 29, 2015

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