04/06/2006, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Second appeal to reopen case of three Catholics sentenced to death rejected

by Benteng Reges
Supreme Court turns down defence request, saying death sentence is final. Many demonstrate in favour of Tibo and his fellow co-accused, but others call for their immediate execution.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesia's Supreme Court rejected the second appeal to review the case of three Catholics sentenced to death over the 2000 sectarian violence in Poso, Central Sulawesi province. Hope to see Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus "Domi" da Silva and Marinus Riwu saved has been dashed once again. Activists and local residents, who consider the three men as victims of a miscarriage of justice caused by Islamic extremists, continue relentless in their opposition to the sentence. However, there are also strong pressures that it be promptly executed "out of respect for the hundreds of Muslims who died in 2000".

Chief Supreme Court Justice Bagir Manan said today that legal proceedings are over and that the legal route was closed for the legal team set up by the Advocacy Service for Justice and Peace in Indonesia or PADMA (in its Indonesian acronym). "PADMA's efforts are against the law," Justice Manan said. "The death sentence is final and the fate of the three convicts is no longer in our hands."

Anton Bachrul Alam, deputy spokesperson of Indonesia's National Police, announced that Central Sulawesi Police has already selected the members of the firing squad, but did not provide any additional details. The execution of the sentence is said to be imminent. "Since the first plan was changed or postponed, we are waiting for further instructions from the Prosecutor's Office of Central Sulawesi," Alam said.

Last Saturday, when the three were first scheduled to be executed, members of NGOs and representatives of various religious communities demonstrated in Jakarta against the death sentence imposed on the three Catholics.

On Tuesday, another demonstration took place in Palu that involved members of local NGOs as well as residents, both local and migrants from Flores Island (from where the three death row inmates hail).

By contrast, many Muslims from the so-called Alliance of Muslim Students took to the streets yesterday calling for three Catholics' immediate execution. Abdul Malik, who led the demonstrators, said that "it was hard to understand how a sentence could be postponed on humanitarian grounds. Are the lives of hundreds of Muslims killed in Poso worth less than Tibo's life?"

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