Indonesia executes 8 drug convicts by firing squad

Two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian man were executed, while a Filipino convict was granted a last-minute reprieve

AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

CILACAP, Indonesia – Indonesia brushed aside last-minute appeals and executed eight people convicted of drug smuggling on Wednesday, although a Philippine woman was granted a reprieve.

Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo confirmed that each of the eight had been executed simultaneously at 12:35 a.m. (1735 GMT) by 13-member firing squads. Medical teams confirmed their deaths three minutes later, he said.

“The executions have been successfully implemented, perfectly,” Prasetyo said. “All worked, no misses,” he said of the deaths of two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian man.

Prasetyo earlier announced that Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso had been granted a stay of execution while the Philippines investigates her case.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia will withdraw its ambassador from Jakarta in response to the executions of the two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31.

He told reporters that the executions were cruel because Chan and Sukumaran had spent a decade in jail before being put to death and “unnecessary because both of these young Australians were fully rehabilitated while in prison.”

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement that the execution of a second Brazilian citizen in Indonesia this year “marks a serious event in the relations between the two countries.”

Brazil had asked for a stay of execution for Rodrigo Gularte, 42, on humanitarian grounds because he was schizophrenic.

Prasetyo dismissed concerns that Indonesia had done long-term damage to bilateral relations through the executions.

“It’s just a momentary reaction,” he said. “What we’re doing is carrying out court decisions.”

He said that the message was “do not try to smuggle drugs in Indonesia, because we will be harsh and firm against drug-related crimes.”

Michael Chan, brother of Andrew Chan, who became a Christian pastor during his decade in prison and married an Indonesian woman on Monday, reacted with anger.

“I have just lost a courageous brother to a flawed Indonesian legal system. I miss you already RIP my Little Brother,” he tweeted.

In a statement, the Sukumaran and Chan families said: “In the 10 years since they were arrested, they did all they could to make amends, helping many others. They asked for mercy, but there was none.”

Mary Jane Veloso’s mother, Celia, said the stay of execution for her daughter was nothing short of a miracle.

Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma thanked Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo for considering the appeal of his Philippine counterpart, Benigno Aquino III. He said the reprieve provides an opportunity for her to testify on how a criminal syndicate duped her into being an accomplice and drug courier.

There were cheers from more than 250 Veloso supporters who held a candlelight vigil outside the Indonesian Embassy in Manila.

Veloso, 30, was arrested in 2010 at the airport in the central Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, where officials discovered about 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) of heroin hidden in her luggage.

Prasetyo said Veloso was granted a stay of execution because her alleged boss has been arrested in the Philippines, and the authorities there requested Indonesian assistance in pursuing the case.

“This delay did not cancel the execution. We just want to give a chance in relation with the legal process in the Philippines,” he said.

The woman who allegedly recruited Veloso to work in Kuala Lumpur, Maria Kristina Sergio, surrendered to police in the Philippines on Monday, Deputy Police Director-General Leonardo A. Espina said.

Sukumaran and Chan had requested that their bodies be flown back to Australia. Nigerian Martin Anderson chose to be buried in the West Java town of Bekasi, and fellow Nigerian Raheem Agbaje wanted to be buried in the East Java town of Madiun where he had been a prisoner. Indonesian Zainal Abidin is to be buried in Cilacap.

The wishes of two other Nigerians – Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise and Okwudili Oyatanze – as well as those of Gularte, the Brazilian, have yet to be made public.

Originally, 10 inmates were to be executed, but Frenchman Serge Atlaoui was excluded because he still has an outstanding court appeal of Jokowi’s rejection of his clemency application.

The government says Atlaoui will face a firing squad alone if his appeal is rejected by the Administrative Court.

Jokowi’s predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, cancelled a trip to Australia this week because of growing anger over the executions. He was to give a speech at the University of Western Australian in Perth on Friday on Australia’s relations with its Asia-Pacific neighbours, including Indonesia.

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