03/15/2006, 00.00
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New witnesses in support of condemned Catholics

by Benteng Reges

The Palu Court has reviewed the case and referred it to the Supreme Court. But the police of Central Sulawesi insist the execution of the three men is "imminent".

Palu (AsiaNews) – The Palu District Court (Central Sulawesi) has given the green light for a court review of the case of three Catholics condemned to death. The hearing, held on 9 March, ended without any significant decisions. In 2001, the same Court condemned Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu to death, for planning attacks against Muslims during inter-religious clashes in Sulawesi in 2000. The sentence was upheld by the Jakarta Supreme Court.

The Centre of Advocacy Service for Justice and Peace in Indonesia, a group of lawyers from different faiths better known as PADMA, officially asked for a case review on the basis of 30 new witnesses in favour of the three men.

During the 9 March hearing the PADMA lawyers reiterated: "Our clients are not murderers." S. Roy Rering, the coordinator of the group, added: "The sentence was made on the basis of opinions, but without listening to key witnesses."

Seven witnesses who testified declared that "Tibo was not on the scene of the crime when revolts and killings broke out in Kayamanya village, near St Teresa Church and the adjoining orphanage"; together with his friends, he was inside (and not outside) the Catholic complex, trying to help people to safety. According to the reconstruction mooted by PADMA, the three Christians are victims of a plot, in which the names of two provocateurs came out: Janis Simangunsong and Paulus Tungkanan.

The Palu Court has already sent its general "conclusions" to the Supreme Court, which will appoint a group of judges to evacuate this "new information".

Meanwhile, the Attorney General's Office and the provincial police insist everything is prepared for the "imminent" execution of the three men. Despite the case review, General Oegroseno, the police chief of Central Sulawesi, said his primary task was to accomplish that which the Supreme Court had ordered. The police have already coordinated with the Attorney General's Office and prepared a squad of selected marksmen. "We have not decided the place or the date, but the execution will take place this month," added Oegroseno.

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See also
Body of one executed Catholic left in church "for few hours"
Execution of Tibo and friends postponed
No death penalty for Poso three, say international groups, Indonesian Catholics
Three Indonesian Catholics executed by firing squad
Execution of three Catholics postponed amid Jakarta rallies


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