09/16/2006, 00.00
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Case of three Catholics to go to international court

by Benteng Reges

Members of their legal team said the Court in Geneva has the power to review the verdict of capital punishment. Yet more rumours have fixed the execution date for shortly after the sacred month of Ramadan.

Poso (AsiaNews) – The lawyers of three Catholics on death row will take their case before the International Criminal Court in Geneva, as per a human rights convention ratified by Jakarta, to safeguard the three men's right to life and to denounce irregularities of Indonesian trials. This was revealed yesterday in the capital by Peter Selestianus SH, chairman of PADMA (the lawyers' organization defending the three men).

Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwa were condemned to death because they were found guilty of masterminding a massacre of 200 Muslims in Poso during inter-faith clashes in 2000. Their case has drawn international attention: they were convicted by a trial riddled with illegalities, like witnesses who were not listened to and evidence that was rejected by the court. Even the pope called on the Indonesian president Susilo to grant clemency to the three Catholics.

Selestianus said Muchtar Pakpahan SH, a human rights activist, would take PADMA's message to Geneva, explaining that the decision had been taken "to bring to light the injustices taking place in Indonesian trials."
The lawyer said "the death penalty of the three Catholics goes against humanity and is an enormous abuse of human rights. The International Criminal Court has the authority to review the verdict."

In the meantime, rumours continue to abound about the "imminent" execution of the three men. The date for their execution had originally been set for 12 August and has been postponed in extremis. A reliable source of the central Sualwesi police confirmed that a meeting has taken place between the police chief of the province, Superintendent Badrotin Haiti, and his counterpart for Palu, Mahfud Mannan SH.

The meeting behind closed doors was held on 14 September to seek to hasten the execution date. The source said the two men "expressed a common interest in killing the three Catholics. It appears they have proposed that the execution should take place immediately after the holy month of Ramadan but the exact date and place were not decided."

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