Indonesian executions spark international anger

Indonesian executions spark international anger

CILACAP, Indonesia - Agence France-Presse
Indonesian executions spark international anger

Indonesia's attorney general on April 29 defended the execution of seven foreign drug convicts, saying that the country was facing a "war" against drugs. AFP Photo

Indonesia faced a storm of international protest on April 29 for putting seven foreign drug convicts before a firing squad, but Filipinos rejoiced after a compatriot was spared at the last minute.

Australia withdrew its ambassador in protest at what it called “cruel and unnecessary” executions, Brazil expressed strong regret and France vowed a diplomatic battle to save a citizen still on death row.

Indonesia staunchly defended the executions as a vital front of its “war” on drugs, as testimony emerged of how the condemned men went singing to their deaths.

The seven - two from Australia, one from Brazil and four from Africa - were shot along with one Indonesian, despite strident foreign appeals and pleas from family members.

Brazil expressed “deep regret” at the execution of its national, who is mentally ill according to his family, and said it was weighing its next move.

The condemned men reportedly all refused blindfolds and sang hymns, among them “Amazing Grace,” as they went to face the firing squad in a jungle clearing, according to a pastor who was with them.

As the clock ticked down to midnight, a group of tearful supporters also sang hymns, embraced and held candles aloft during a vigil at the port in Cilacap, the gateway to the prison island of Nusakambangan.

A Filipina originally set to be executed was given an 11th hour reprieve after a woman who allegedly duped her into ferrying drugs to Indonesia came forward to police in the Philippines.

The reprieve for Mary Jane Veloso was hailed in the Philippines as a miracle and a gift from God, but Indonesian Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo stressed it was only a “postponement” to allow time for police investigations.

He added: “We are fighting a war against horrible drug crimes that threaten our nation’s survival.”

“I would like to say that an execution is not a pleasant thing. It is not a fun job. But we must do it in order to save the nation from the danger of drugs. We are not making enemies of countries from where those executed came. What we are fighting against is drug-related crimes.”
Prasetyo also played down Australia’s decision to recall its ambassador, describing it as a “temporary reaction”, while Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stressed Jakarta’s desire to “continue having good relations” with one of its most important trading partners.