12/23/2005, 00.00
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Condemned Catholics to spend Christmas with their families

by Benteng Reges

The Procurator General has said the three men will not be executed in the Christmas period. Indonesian MPs have expressed concern about the different standards used in applying the death penalty to Islamic convicts as opposed to others.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The three Indonesian Catholics condemned to death for inter-religious violence in Poso – central Sualwesi – in 2000, will not be executed during the Christmas period, nor immediately after the New Year. This was declared by the Procurator General, Abdul Rahman Saleh, during a parliamentary session with Commission I, charged to handle home affairs.

Already a week ago, Oegroseno, provincial police chief in central Sulawesi, said the three convicts should spend Christmas and New Year with their families.

Further proof that the execution is not imminent lies in the fact that the police have not yet started preparing the shooters picked to carry out the sentence. Usually, the obligatory exercises of the shooters last for a few weeks.

Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu were condemned to death in 2002. In November, the Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono turned down their request for a pardon; straight after, the Office of the Procurator General announced that the three would be executed "soon".

Since then, local Church representatives and human rights activists have been calling for a repeal of the sentence, which is held to be "unjust", not least because of pressure exerted by fundamentalist Muslims on the court.

Some MPs have also expressed their concern about the case of the three Catholics. During the session with Abdul Rahman Saleh, Ratna Situmorang said the Office of the Procurator General was using different standards in applying capital punishment. The woman used the example of the Islamic terrorists Imam Samudra, Muklas and Amrozi, who were condemned to death for the 2002 Bali bombing a year ago; their execution, she said, is always being put off. "That's not fair and it's unjust. These Muslims have killed hundreds of innocent victims but their execution has been suspended or delayed for uncertain specific period," said the MP. And they "also enjoy special treatment: the government transferred them from Krobokan Prison in Bali to Nusakambangan in Cilacap of Central Java".

The Procurator General responded to the charges by underlining the difference between the two cases, denying that his office had adopted different measures to tackle them because of the tense political situation.

Meanwhile, local NGOs and human rights organisations persist in their appeals that the case of the three Catholics be reopened. Most highlight the urgency of shedding light on the alleged responsibility for the Poso clashes of certain government officials and members of the forces of order. Tibo and his friends are paying the price for them. It was Tibo himself who recently revealed the involvement of at least 16 people in the inter-religious clashes in 2000.

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