04/01/2006, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Execution of three Catholics postponed amid Jakarta rallies

by Benteng Reges

The office of the State Attorney General said the decision was taken because "important papers" were missing. For Indonesians, this means "there were specific orders from above". Sit-ins for the three Catholics are multiplying in the capital and in Sulawesi.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The execution of Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus "Domi" da Silva and Marinus Riwu, three Indonesian Catholics condemned to death for their role in violence that rocked Poso in 2000, has been postponed. This was announced by the office of the State Attorney General, which also confirmed that the execution had been secretly fixed for today, 1 April.

Masyudi Ridwan, office spokesman, said the delay was due to the lack of "important papers": for Indonesians, this phrase means that the decision was taken because of "orders from above". Ridwan did not want to comment about the new date set. Brigadier General Oegroseno, head of the central Sulawesi police, said the execution should take place "in the coming days", but he refused to comment about the postponement.

M Jahja Sibe SH, Attorney General chief in Sulawesi – that has the authority to decide about the execution – said a few days ago that "everything was prepared for the execution" and he even said a "special uniform" had been made for the three condemned men. The site chosen for the execution was a remote area on the outskirts of Palu.

So it seems the strong protests of PADMA, the group of lawyers defending the three Catholics, have paid off, as have ever increasing calls from the Indonesian population that the case be reopened. Today itself, a demonstration on the streets of Jakarta drew hundreds of people.  The organizers – the National Alliance for the Freedom of Tibo and Friends – said the rally "challenged the decision of the government, which should guarantee a just and fair trial to each and every Indonesian". The protesters marched with placards reading "Free them"; "Their lives are in the hands of President Susilo" and "Discover the true culprits and release the innocent".

Speaking outside the State Palace, Stephen Roy Rening – lawyer and coordinator of PADMA – said the alliance "is ready to present the case before the International Court of Justice if the government does not listen to our requests". He added: "This is a matter of humanity. We have discovered this trial was unjust and we are asking President Susilo to overturn the execution order and to give the three Catholics back their freedom".

Rening urged the Attorney General to "give due weight to the statements of important eye witnesses, who have testified more than once in favour of the three men".

In the coming days, a demonstration is also planned in Tentena, a city in Sulawesi with the Christian majority. Participants will call for a "new and fair trial for the three condemned men".

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