08/11/2006, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Last wish of Indonesian Catholic on death row

by Benteng Reges

Domani Fabianus Tibo will be unjustly executed by firing squad together with his friends da Silva and Riwu. His last words are an appeal to the president and a denunciation of the country's legal system. The sorrow of the Catholic community: "used as scapegoats". Mgr Mandagi will preside over the funerals.

Palu (AsiaNews) – Three Indonesian Catholics on death row are only a few hours away from their execution in Palu, central Sulawesi province. Today, a few minutes after midnight (local time), they will be brought before the firing squad that will kill them. Their hopes in an act of clemency from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono are dimming but have not been completely extinguished. One of the men condemned to death, Fabianus Tibo, has turned to the head of State to express the so-called "last wish" allowed him by Indonesian law. "I hope my president will be so good as to review my case," he said last night from Petobo prison in Palu. For several months, defence lawyers and human rights groups have been calling for a review of the men's trial that was held to be unfair and conditioned by pressure from extremist groups. New witnesses and evidence that would have absolved the three men was never taken seriously by the court.

Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus "Domi" da Silva and Marinus Riwu were condemned to death because they were found guilty of masterminding the massacre of hundreds of Muslims in Poso in 2001, during an inter-faith conflict that shook the area between 1998 and 2001. So far, not one Muslim has been tried in relation to the clashes that claimed a high death toll among Christians too.

In his last words, Tibo hit out at the Indonesian legal system "that condemned three innocent peasants to death when all they did was offer help to Catholic victims of the violence in Poso. Why will those criminals who raped, killed and looted during those times be spared?"

Visibly shaken by his fate, Tibo anyhow is continuing to socialize with other detainees. Yesterday he received a visit from his family: his wife Nurlin Kasiala, his eldest son, Robertus, and his daughter. The priest who supported the three men in these difficult times, Fr Jimmy Tumbelaka of Tentenna, was also there. The men's relatives forcefully reiterated their negation of the "unjust" penalty. Their sorrow and frustration is echoed by the country's Catholic community that is "profoundly saddened by one of the greatest tragedies of Indonesia's history, where Catholics seem to have become the scapegoats."

Everything has already been prepared for the funeral of the condemned men. Tibo himself has said his body will be buried in Poso. The funeral will be celebrated by the bishop of Manado, Mgr Peter Canisius Mandagi, in the Cathedral of Palu, where burial chambers will be prepared for Riwu and da Silva who will be buried in Maumere and Kupang, province of East Nusa Tenggara.

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