Palu (AsiaNews) Indonesian authorities have denied the three Catholic men sentenced to death the right to attend mass one last time before they are executed tonight by a firing squad. The Prosecutor's Office in Palu has decided that Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva cannot receive the "spiritual guidance" hitherto provided by Fr Jimmy Tumbelaka in Petobo Prison, this according to Father Tumbelaka himself, who is also parish priest at Poso's Saint Therese Parish church. The clergyman added that the prosecutor also banned a chapel of rest in Palu St Mary's Cathedral for the three men as they had requested.
"I am deeply disappointed that the Prosecutor's Office rejected their demand to be confessed and receive the Sacraments one last time," he said.
The negative decision violates Indonesian law which grants death row convicts the right to have their last wishes properly addressed.
Father Tumbelaka is not discouraged though. In late afternoon he celebrated mass in Petobo Prison, where the families of the three Catholic men were able to attend.
In the meantime, the authorities have set up tight security around the prison in Palu, government buildings, Mutiara Airport and St Mary's Church.
Tibo and his fellow prisoners were scheduled to die yesterday but the execution was postponed. Although no information is forthcoming, it seems almost certain that they will be executed by firing squad around midnight local time (GMT + 08:00) at an undisclosed location.
According to anonymous sources, a few hours before the "deadline" the three men will be moved to another detention facility before finally reaching their "death scene"usually an open-air space far from residential areas.
"There are no more tears in our family . . . we have lost the power to cry," said Robert Tibo, Fabianus's eldest son. In his last public statement, Robert's father, Fabianus, said he was "not afraid of dying." Instead, he said: "I am praying that my family be able to provide for themselves and forgive me for not being with them all these years."
"My hands are clean. We are innocent," said Riwu. "It is a political plot to cover 16 names we denounced as the real culprits," he added. Similarly, for da Silva, the "law is against us. For years we tried to tell the truth but they silenced us".
As the hours ticked away, several human rights groups, Christian organisations and prominent religious and lay leaders have tried to intervene in Jakarta , calling on the authorities not to carry out the death sentence. For many people, Tibo and his fellow inmates are victims of an unfair trial that was exploited by Islamic fundamentalists for their own purposes.
The three men were found guilty in the massacre of 70 Muslims in the 2000 Poso sectarian clashes, but no one else was tried for the crime.