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Indonesia Appears to Prepare for Drug Convict Executions

  • VOA News

Police officers direct an armored car leading a convoy of vehicles carrying Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino woman on death row for drug offenses, as it leaves a prison in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for the prison island of Nusakambangan, April 24, 2015.

Police officers direct an armored car leading a convoy of vehicles carrying Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino woman on death row for drug offenses, as it leaves a prison in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for the prison island of Nusakambangan, April 24, 2015.

Indonesia has asked foreign embassies to send representatives to a maximum-security prison on the island of Nusakambangan this weekend to visit prisoners awaiting execution for drug-trafficking convictions.

It is not known when the nine foreign prisoners and one Indonesian will stand before firing squads, but Jakarta has not yet given a 72-hour notice for the executions, as required by law.

“It's true, we have been told to be there on Saturday,” a foreign embassy official who asked not to be identified because she was not authorized to speak to the media told Reuters. “We still don't know when the actual date of execution will happen, but we expect that it will be in days.”

Woman transferred

Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino maid facing the death penalty after being convicted in 2010 of drug trafficking, was transferred from an Indonesian prison early Friday ahead of her expected execution.

Veloso is among 10 drug smugglers whose planned executions last month were postponed due to last-minute appeals. The others are three Nigerian men, two Australian men, and four men from France, Ghana, Brazil and Indonesia.

The cases have strained relations between the governments of those nations and Indonesia.

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

Indonesia's Supreme Court this week rejected the final appeals of a French prisoner and another from Ghana, according to media reports.

Appeals to Indonesia

Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay also met his Indonesian counterpart, Jusuf Kalla, on the sidelines of a Jakarta conference this week to appeal for mercy on behalf of the Philippine prisoner. He was expected to make a final plea to President Joko Widodo at a ceremony Friday.

France has also 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 so-called Bali Nine drug-smuggling group.

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

A lawyer for the two Australians said a letter of instruction had been sent from the office of the Indonesian attorney general to those responsible for carrying out the executions. He said it would be “a travesty” if they were executed while legal avenues were still being pursued.

“These developments are very concerning,” the Melbourne-based lawyer, Michael O'Connell, told Reuters.

“In effect, this letter of instruction is a step towards the execution of the 10 people … in the near future,” he said.

International reaction

A lawyer for Brazilian inmate Rodrigo Gularte told AFP that consular and legal teams for the condemned inmates were heading to Cilacap, the port town nearest the prison island, as soon as possible.

The members of the Bali Nine were arrested at the main airport on the holiday island of Bali for trying to smuggle 8 kg (18 lb) of heroin to Australia. The seven other members of the gang, all Australians, have been jailed in Indonesia.

Drug laws in Indonesia are among the world's toughest and President Joko Widodo, who took office in October, said the country is facing a narcotics emergency that requires the ultimate sanction for convicts.

Jakarta resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap. Six executions have been carried out so far this year.

Some material for this report came from AFP and AP.

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