09/21/2006, 00.00
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Execution of Tibo and friends postponed

The three Catholics should have been executed at around midnight yesterday; there has been no official word about the new execution date, which presumably will not be earlier than tomorrow.

Palu (AsiaNews) – Three Indonesian Catholics imprisoned in Palu, province of central Sulawesi, will not be executed at least until tomorrow. "The execution will take place on Friday in the early hours," (Palu time), said Fr Jimmy Tumbeleka, the spiritual director of the three condemned men, who has accompanied them throughout their detention. The men's execution by firing squad should have taken place yesterday at around midnight.

However, the authorities never communicated the exact time. Even now, there are no comments nor are there any official announcements about a new deadline. According to what Fr Tumbeleka told the Jakarta Post daily, the decision to execute the three men tomorrow followed a meeting between provincial police leaders.

Fabianus Tibo, 60 years, Marinus Riwu, 48, and Dominggus da Silva, 42, were condemned to death for masterminding the massacre of 200 Muslims in Poso during inter-faith clashes in 2000. They should have been killed on 12 August but their execution was postponed at the last minute after strong international protests against their sentence and an appeal from the pope.

The priest, who yesterday heard their confession in prison, said "Tibo and friends" thanked all those who were fighting their cause. Yesterday, last minute appeals on their behalf came from the Bishop of Manado, Mgr Joseph Suwtan, Amnesty International and the Inter-parliamentary Union. Tibo and friends have exhausted all legal avenues of appeal but they still hope President Susilo will give a positive reply to their second request for clemency.

Meanwhile, levels of alert remain high in the province of central Sulawesi, where the number of Muslims and Christians is balanced. In the area, around 4,000 men are deployed between policemen, military and civil forces. Another 200 policemen of north Sulawesi have come to Poso as reinforcements.

Christian and human rights groups claim Tibo and his friends are victims of an unfair trial, while Islamic extremists are calling for their immediate execution. Today, more than 1000 people took to the streets in Atambua, West Timor, for a prayer march.

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See also
Body of one executed Catholic left in church "for few hours"
"Shoot us in public" last wish of three death row Catholics
New witnesses in support of condemned Catholics
Execution of three Catholics postponed amid Jakarta rallies
Body of Dominggus da Silva returns to Flores after execution in Palu


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