Indonesian Church prays for a Filipino on death row but believed innocent
by Mathias Hariyadi
Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, 30 and mother of two, will be executed in the coming days. In 2010 she was arrested because caught at the airport with 2.6 kg of heroin. The young woman was exploited as a courier and was unaware of the contents of the bag. The Supreme Court recently rejected the last appeal for a pardon.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Jesuit priest Fr. Bernhard "Teddy" Kieser, professor at the Catholic University of Sanata Dharma (USD) of Yogyakarta in central Java, has promoted prayer vigils for a young Filipino woman, who was sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug trafficking.

She is believed innocent by many. The Supreme Court (MA) has rejected the request for clemency made by the 30 year-old Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, who should be executed in the coming days in the maximum security prison of Nusakambangan, the so-called Indonesian "Alcatraz".

The priest and professor, spiritual father for the young woman on death row, has launched a personal campaign for her release. Fr. Bernhard also addressed to the Bishop of Purwokerto Msgr. Julianus Sunarko, head of the parish of Cilacap and area of ‚Äč‚ÄčNusakambangan, asking him to promote the prayer campaign throughout the diocese. He is also looking to involve the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta, which so far has not attempted to help the fate - judicial and personnel – of its citizen.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, a simple woman and mother of two children, at age 25 moved to Malaysia to work as a domestic worker. A local boss, active in recruiting migrant workers and placing them among various families, entrusted her with an assignment: to carry a suitcase - the contents of which the young Filipino knew nothing- and deliver it to some people who would have met her at the Yogyakarta airport in Indonesia.

On reaching her destination, Mary Jane was checked by border police who discovered, 2.6 kg of heroin in the bag, worth a total of about 500 thousand dollars. That was in April 2010 and since then the woman’s judicial and personal ordeal began.

During the trial she was not given adequate assistance, and only recently, thanks to the efforts of the priest, has her drama began circulating within the Catholic community first, and then public opinion. Among other things at first the young woman hid her situation from her family and, only recently, her relatives were allowed to meet her in prison.

This is a far cry from the global outcry that surrounded other cases such as that of the mentally disabled Brazilian also likely to be executed. Both judicial cases are a result of the "zero tolerance" campaign launched by the Indonesian authorities against drug trafficking, which often ends up affecting  only common criminals or innocent victims.