INDONESIA: FOUR PRISONERS KILLED IN FIRST EXECUTIONS IN A YEAR
|Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke was executed despite a last-minute clemency appeal to the Indonesian president
July 29, 2016: IndonesiaÂ has carried out its first executions in more than a year despite a string of legal appeals, diplomatic pressure and international condemnation.
Four prisoners, all sentenced to death for drug offences, were escorted to a clearing on the penal island of Nusa Kambangan and shot dead by a firing squad early on July 29.
They were identified as Freddy Budiman, an Indonesian citizen; Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke and Michael Titus Igweh, from Nigeria; and Seck Osmane, from Senegal.
Ten others who had also faced executionÂ â including three Indonesians, and foreign nationals from countries including Pakistan and India â were not killed, but officials said they would be put to death at a later date.
Authorities did not give a reason for the reprieve, but the island was hit by a major storm as the other executions took place.
Deputy attorney general Noor Rachmad said the four men were executed shortly after midnight local time.
âThis is not a fun job. For us, this is really a sad job because it involves peopleâs lives,â he said. âThis was done not in order to take lives but to stop evil intentions, and the evil act of drug trafficking.â
Jeffersonâs lawyer, Afif Abdul Qoyim, told AFP the execution should not have gone ahead as his client this week filed a legal appeal. âWhen this process is not respected, that means that this is no longer a country that upholds the law, nor human rights,â he said.
Lawyers said there was evidence to suggest Jefferson was not guilty of the crime for which he was condemned to death â possessing 1.7kg of heroin â including an admission of guilt on his deathbed by the man who allegedly framed him.
Jefferson had previously refused to apply for clemency, arguing that it would equate to an admission of guilt. But in a last-ditch effort, his lawyers lodged an appeal for clemency on Monday morning. Under Indonesian law executions cannot be carried out while a clemency appeal is still pending.
Police, army and navy personnel were tightly monitoring the port, the gateway to Nusa Kambangan prison, with 1,500 officers assigned to guard the area.
Coffins were ferried to Nusa Kambangan on July 28 morning, and spiritual advisers â who provide comfort and guidance to prisoners in their final hours â were told to prepare the inmates for their deaths within hours.
Amnesty International described the execution as âa deplorable actâ.
âAny executions that are still to take place must be halted immediately. The injustice already done cannot be reversed, but there is still hope that it wonât be compounded,â said Rafendi Djamin, Amnestyâs director for south-east Asia and the Pacific.
Indonesia had largely withheld details of this round of executions from the public, declining even to publicly confirm the list of those slated to be executed in the hours leading up to their deaths.
Two people whose cases had raised high-profile international concern among rights groups were not executed.
The first was Pakistani Zulfiqar Ali, who hasÂ alleged he was beaten into confessing to the crime of heroin possession. The other was Indonesian woman Merri Utami, who was caught with heroin in her bag as she came through Jakarta airport and claims she was duped into becoming a drug mule.
Ricky Gunawan, the director of the Community Legal Aid Institute, said the lack of transparency around the latest round of executions has been a convenient cover. âFor all this time they have kept it secret,â he said. âIndonesia is perhaps aware that there are so many laws they are violating so thatâs why they keep it secret.â
Under Indonesian law death row prisoners cannot be executed unless all legal avenues â including clemency appeals â are fully exhausted. (Sources: theguardian.com, 29/07/2016)