07/29/2016, 09.41
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Jakarta carries out four death sentences overnight

by Mathias Hariyadi

Despite criticism from Church and world leaders, Jakarta carries out death sentences. An Indonesian, two Nigerians and a South African are killed. For now 10 prisoners saved, but they are due to be killed before 31 July. Former president Habibie writes to Joko Widodo calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Indonesian death squad carried out four death sentences for crimes related to drug trafficking. The executions took place 50 minutes after midnight (local time). The deceased are the "king of the drug mafia" Freddy Budiman, two Nigerian nationals (Michael Titus, 34, and Humphrey Ejike, 40) and Cajetan Uchena Onyeworo Seck Osmane, a 34 year old South African citizen.

For days, the authorities had announced the shooting of 14 prisoners on death row, by 31 July. HM Praseyto, attorney general, did not explain why 10 prisoners have been spared for now. They include Merri Utami, an Indonesian migrant worker and Zulfikar Ali, a Pakistani citizen.

The international community has criticized Jakarta's decision to go ahead with the executions. The European Union and the United Nations has asked to suspend the killings. Yesterday, the Indian Foreign Minister addressed a final appeal to save the life of a 48 year old accused of drug dealing. Even Pakistan has stepped up diplomatic efforts to obtain the suspension of the sentence for Ali.

BJ Habibie, former president of Indonesia (1998-99) wrote a letter to President Joko Widodo to seek pardon for Ali for "humanitarian reasons." The condemned man, in fact, is in poor health and is forced to move around in a wheel chair and breathe through oxygen tank.

In his message Habibie appealed to the government to approve a moratorium on the death penalty "as done by other 140 countries in the world". "My question - writes the former president - is whether it is true that the death penalty automatically stops drug dealing. It is possible to combat drug trafficking without applying the death penalty, as in Sweden and in other countries".

Even the Catholic Church has spoken out against the death penalty, undermining human dignity. Yesterday Msgr. Ignatius Suharyo, Archbishop of Jakarta, asked all the faithful of the diocese to pray especially for the victims of the death penalty and for the approval of the moratorium.

Today is the third round of a series of executions that started last year. Since 1979, 70 prisoners have been executed for drug crimes.

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