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Indonesia: Flurry of Activity Signals Executions Are Imminent

Jakarta. Indonesia has asked foreign embassies to send representatives to a maximum security prison ahead of the expected execution of 10 drug convicts, although an official 72-hour notice of execution has not been given yet, diplomats said on Friday.

Among the convicted drug offenders set to face the firing squad are nationals from Australia, Brazil, France, the Philippines and Nigeria, and the case has strained relations between the governments of those nations and Indonesia.

“It’s true, we have been told to be there on Saturday,” said a foreign embassy official who asked not to be identified because she was not authorized to speak to the media.

“We still don’t know when the actual date of execution will happen but we expect that it will be in days.”

Security was heightened on Friday at the prison island of Nusakambangan off the Central Java port town of Cilacap, where the executions will take place. It was not immediately clear why the representatives from the four countries had been summoned.

A police spokesman said orders to prepare the firing squad had not yet come from the Attorney General’s Office.

The attorney general has been waiting for all the legal processes of the 10 death-row inmates to be completed before announcing an execution date.

Lawyers were scrambling to various courts in a last-ditch attempt to delay the executions. But the only outstanding appeal considered still valid by the attorney general was for an Indonesian national, Zainal Abidin, said AGO spokesman Tony Spontana.

“We are hoping that there will be a ruling on Zainal Abidin’s case review as soon as possible,” he said.

The attorney general will announce the date of the execution in Jakarta but it was not yet clear when that would happen, he said.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Zainal’s final appeal on Monday.

Considerations of compassion

Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, in Indonesia this week for the Asian-African Conference, was expected to meet President Joko Widodo on Friday to make a final appeal for mercy on behalf of Philippine citizen Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso.

“Maybe, the best we can hope for is a commutation of the death sentence,” Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose told reporters in Manila.

Binay said he appealed again for clemency for Veloso during a meeting with his Indonesia counterpart, Jusuf Kalla, on Thursday.

“I appeal to you on considerations of compassion, and assure you that the Philippine government is exhausting all avenues to ensure that proper justice is served to those responsible for deceiving Mary Jane into having brought the drugs into Indonesia,” Binay said, quoting from a written appeal that he handed to Kalla.

Maximum security prison on Nusakambangan Island, Indonesia
Veloso arrived early on Friday in Nusakambangan.

She faces the death penalty after the Supreme Court rejected her appeal for a judicial review. She was moved from Wirogunan prison in Yogyakarta to Nusakambangan in preparation for her execution.

Police officers and soldiers arrived at Wirogunan at around 1 a.m. on Friday to start the transfer. Eight police cars and a number of unidentified private cars escorted Veloso from Wirogunan.

Veloso’s plight has been keenly felt in the Philippines, where around 100 protesters carrying “Save the life of Mary Jane” signs in Indonesian picketed Jakarta’s embassy in Manila.

“Mary Jane doesn’t have that much time. The [Philippine] government must show determination to save her from death row,” Garry Martinez of the emigrants’ support group Migrante told AFP.

Customs officers at Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport arrested Veloso in 2009 for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin on a flight from Malaysia. Veloso claims a family friend, working with an international crime gang, had secretly stashed the heroin in her suitcase.

On Thursday, France accused Indonesia of “serious dysfunctions” in its legal system that led to Frenchman Serge Atlaoui being sentenced to death, and said his execution would be “incomprehensible.”

France has warned Indonesia that the executions could damage ties, while Australia has pleaded repeatedly for clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two Australians arrested as ringleaders of the “Bali Nine” drug-smuggling group.

The members of the Bali Nine were arrested at the main airport on the holiday island of Bali for trying to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin to Australia. The seven other members of the gang, all Australians, are in jail in Indonesia.

Not giving up hope

Chinthu Sukumaran, Myuran’s brother, was making last-minute arrangements to leave for Jakarta.

“I can’t believe this is it. We still haven’t given up hope,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Michael Chan, Andrew’s brother, was also heading to Indonesia, the paper said.

Consular staff assisting Brazilian convict Rodrigo Gularte were told by Indonesian authorities to be in Cilacap on Saturday. Lawyers for the two Australians were to meet Australian Embassy officials in Cilacap Saturday as Canberra said it was “gravely concerned” at the signs that the executions were drawing near.

“Our ambassador in Jakarta is currently engaged in making a series of representations,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs told AFP in a statement.

Indonesia has harsh punishments for drug crimes and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap. Six executions have been carried out so far this year.

Sources: Jakarta Globe, Reuters, AFP & JG, April 24, 2015

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