09/18/2007, 00.00
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Catholics in Indonesia: “No death penalty for Bali terrorists”.

by Mathias Hariyadi
While the country awaits the capital execution of Amrozi, one of the three condemned to death for the 2002 Bali bombs, Catholic community leaders warn : the death penalty does not resolve the problems in society, instead we need to avoid “political verdicts” such as the case of the Poso three. Amrozi says he is happy to die, because he will meet the Prophet and Islam’s martyrs.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – An end to the death penalty in Indonesia and a guarantee that political interests will not influence judge’s decisions in delicate cases linked to religious issues.  This is what leaders of Indonesia’s Catholic are urging as they comment to AsiaNews on the imminent execution of Amrozi, one of the three terrorists condemned for the 2002 Bali bombs which killed 202 people.  Along with him, Ali Gufron and Imam Samudra are awaiting execution. On August 30th the Supreme Court rejected Amrozi’s appeal and is now set to pass judgement on the other two cases.


All three have written a spiritual testament, a small segment of Amrozi’s was released by his lawyers.  In the letter signed by the terrorist, he says he is ready to “take up the jihad once again” should he be saved from the execution block, and even if he dies he is happy because in doing so he will meet “the Prophet and all of God’s Warriors in paradise”. “Our spilled blood" - the text continues – will become a ray of light for all Muslims and hell for all infidels”.


The General Attorneys office in Jakarta refuses to provide details surrounding the date and place of the execution. “According to law – explains public official Abdul Hakim Ritonga, – it should take place in Bali where the crime was committed, but for security reasons it may be moved elsewhere”. If Amrozi does not avail of his right to ask for a presidential pardon – concludes Jakarta – he will have to face execution.


However Catholic leaders, warn that execution can never be considered a solution and ask that human life be respected.  “I have my own opinion that death penalty should be omitted from our national law regulation ", declares Fr. Benny Susetyo, Secretary of The Indonesian Bishops of Conference (KWI) Commission for Interfaith Dialogue.” It is not only against “human right”, but also, from various hand-on experiences and studies it is clearly that death sentence would not be able to “reduce” the number of crimes and the brutality of criminals”. And he adds: “I think Amrozi merits life imprisonment not death. It is also a very heavy burden”.


Fr. Luluk Widyawan - Parish Priest of Mary Annunciate Church of Porong, Sidoarjo

East Java Province, agrees: “the death penalty very often could does not resolve problems as we –Indonesian society— saw in the case against the three Catholics in Poso, put to death following inter-religious violence in Sulawesi in 2002; they died but the violence did not end”. In the view of the priest the case of the three Catholics is a clear example of the “weakness of the Indonesian legal system, when political interests are brought to bear on legal decisions”.


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