Jakarta (AsiaNews) - "Miracles do happen." With these words full of joy and emotion the mother of the Filipino migrant worker on death row in Indonesia reacted to Jakarta’s last minute decision to suspend the execution.
The Philippine Foreign Affairs Department confirmed the reprieve. “We are relieved that the execution of Mary Jane Veloso was not carried out tonight,” said spokesman Charles Jose. “The Lord has answered our prayers.” With a last minute decision that is somewhat miraculous, Jakarta has saved the life of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, a 30 year old Filipina migrant worker sentenced to death in Indonesia - although presumed innocent - for international drug trafficking.
Speaking to AsiaNews shortly after the announcement, the Jesuit priest Bernhard German Kieser, spiritual father of the woman and the first to support her innocence, retraced the decisive moments of this story.
He spent the final moments with Mary Jane and was to accompany her to the point where she was to have been shot by firing squad. However, suddenly on the way an officer informed him that the execution was "suspended or canceled". Satisfaction and relief were also expressed by the Archbishop of Jakarta Msgr. Ignatius Suharyo, who was informed by the Jesuit priest of the good news.
However, the fate of eight other detainees with her on death row was the exact opposite as they were executed by firing squad. The execution took place in the early hours of Wednesday, April 29 in the prison of Besi, on Nusakambangan island, in Central Java province, dubbed the Indonesian Alcatraz. The victims included the Australian duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and a Brazilian citizen.
The Australian Government had launched a last minute appeal to delay the execution, but the authorities wanted to proceed according to the established program. Moreover, Indonesia is among the strictest nations in the world with regards laws against drug trafficking and in 2013 put an end to four years of the moratorium. Now sentences will be rigorously applied, as indicated by the president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
In response Canberra has recalled its ambassador from Jakarta. Official protests have also been raised by Brasilia, threatening diplomatic retaliation for the second execution in less than three months of a Brazilian citizen in Indonesia.
The only one who was spared was the Filipina Mary Jane Veloso. Yesterday boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and the archbishop of Jakarta Mgr. Ignatius Suharyo . "We are so happy," said Celia Veloso, Mary Jane’s mother. "I still cannot believe that my daughter will live." "We had no more hope. My [other] children were already in the island waiting to pick up her body. We are all so happy. Her [Mary Jane’s] kids were all awake, yelling ‘Yes, yes, mama will live".
According to local sources, the last minute u-turn is due to the fact that the person suspected of having recruited and involved May Jane - without her knowledge - in international drug trafficking was delivered yesterday afternoon to the Philippine authorities.
ùAs a result Jakarta is re-opening the case, deciding to save the woman's life even if there were no final pardon. Indeed, yesterday afternoon, the Attorney General of Jakarta through its chief Prasetyo had stated that, regardless of guilt or innocence, Mary Jane would have been "executed tonight."
Until last week, there was also a Frenchman among those sentenced to death, the 51 year old Serge Atlaoui. However, the last minute intervention of President Francois Hollande, who has threatened diplomatic retaliation, managed to remove him from the "black list". Even for him, the prosecutor in Jakarta stated that the execution is only suspended and will be carried out following the revision of the trail demanded by Paris, has been carried out.