Execution of "Tibo and friends" fixed for 21 September
by Benteng Reges

After several postponements, the authorities have set the execution date of the three Indonesian Catholics. This was confirmed today by their defence team. Rumour has it that large protest rallies will be held in Palu and Poso: police have stepped up security measures.

Palu (AsiaNews) – Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwa, three Catholics condemned to death in central Sulawesi, Indonesia, will be executed on 21 September. The decision followed a meeting behind closed doors between Major General Arif Budi Sampurno, regional head of the army of Sulawesi province, Badrotin Haiti, chief of the police of central Sulawesi and Mannan SH, procurator-general of the province.

Today, Stephen Rening SH, coordinator of PADMA, the group of lawyers defending the three men, confirmed the news. He said Tibo, da Silva and Riwu, detained in Petobo prison, had received the official communication of their execution by firing squad, fixed for 21 September in Palu. "I contacted the local prosecutor's office in Palu, who confirmed the plan," said Rening. "Shortly afterwards, an official letter arrived to my clients." The lawyer however added that relatives of the three – who hail from the Christian majority zone of Tentenna, Poso – have not been made aware of the authorities' decision yet. Rening and Fr Norbert Bethan SVD, also a member of PADMA, are trying to get a flight to Palu. In Palu and in Poso too, security measures have been stepped up, while rumours circulate about large-scale rallies to protest against the execution of the three men.

General Sampruno, commander of the Sulawesi army, said the execution would be carried to term as established. "Allow the verdict, which has its basis in law, to be executed," he told the press.

"Tibo and friends", as the three Catholics have been known for some time, should have been executed already on 12 August, but their execution was postponed at the last moment. They were condemned to death for masterminding the massacre of 200 Muslims in Poso during inter-faith clashes in 2000. Their case has drawn international attention: the trial that found them guilty was riddled with illegal procedures, such as witnesses who were not heard and evidence that was not accepted by the Court. The pope was among those who asked Indonesian President Susilo to grant the three men a pardon.