09/20/2006, 00.00
INDONESIA
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"Shoot us in public" last wish of three death row Catholics

by Benteng Reges

Tibo's son had this message to give after meeting his father for the last time: "Thus, those who want to kill us will be satisfied." The three Indonesians will be executed just after midnight tonight, without ever having received an answer from President Susilo about their second request for clemency.

Palu (AsiaNews) – Three Indonesian Catholics condemned to death for the massacre of Muslims during the 2000 inter-faith conflict in Poso, central Sulawesi, want to be executed in public. The desire of Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwa, was revealed yesterday by Tibo's eldest son, Robert: "The execution should take place in public, to satisfy those who want our death."

The execution by firing squad of the three Christians, on whose behalf even Benedict had intervened, will take place shortly after midnight today, in the first minutes of the new day.  The case of "Tibo and friends" drew international attention: the trial that condemned them to capital punishment was marred by illegal procedures like witnesses who were not heard and evidence that was not accepted by the court.

Relatives of the three convicts yesterday went to Petobo prison in Palu for a final visit. They were accompanied by Fr Jimmy Tumbelaka, of Manado diocese and two lawyers from the PADMA group who were defending them: Fr Norbert Bethan and Stephen Roy Rening. The latter reiterated for the umpteenth time that tomorrow's execution goes "against the law, seeing that the condemned men are still waiting for an official response from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono about the second request for clemency".

The three Catholics have also expressed their desire to have their coffins exposed to the public in the Cathedral of St Mary of Palu. Tibo and Riwu will be buried in the village of Beteleme in Morowali, Poso, while da Silva will return to his native village in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. "Allow my family to take care of my remains, not the Attorney General's Office," was Tibo's last expressed wish.

Fr Tumbelaka said: "The firing squad has been chosen and the place and time fixed. Any changes now are in the hands of God." In view of the execution, which in preceding months had provoked great protest rallies, the prison authorities have heightened security measures in Petobo prison. Meanwhile, there is no letup in criticism against the court decision. According to Usman Hamid, head of the Commission for the Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (known as KONTRAS), "by killing the three men, the State is going against human rights and preventing the disclosure of the identity of those who truly responsible for these clashes."

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