Indian among 14 prisoners who could be executed by Indonesia today

  • Rezaul H Laskar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 28, 2016 01:23 IST
Indonesian police display 60 kilograms of methamphetamine, smuggled from Cameroon and Malaysia, before a press conference in Jakarta on July 27. (AFP)

Indian national Gurdip Singh is among 14 people who could face a firing squad this week when Indonesia resumes executing prisoners, prompting foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to say on Wednesday that New Delhi is making “last minute efforts” to save him.

Amnesty International has criticised the Indonesian government’s decision to go ahead with the execution of 10 foreigners and four Indonesians, saying some of the prisoners who could face the firing squad were “convicted in manifestly unfair trials and have not submitted clemency request to the President”.

Singh, 48, was found guilty of trying to smuggle 300 grams of heroin into Indonesia in 2004 and was sentenced to death by the state district court at Tanggerang in Banten province in February 2005.

He was sentenced to death along with a Brazilian even though prosecutors had recommended a 20-year jail term for Singh, who is also known as Vishal and belongs to Jalandhar in Punjab.

Singh also retracted a statement he had made against Pakistani national Zulfiqar Ali, who is among the prisoners who could be executed this week. Singh admitted he was coerced into making the false admission against Ali in return for a lenient sentence for himself.

Swaraj said in a tweet on Wednesday evening: “We are making last minute efforts to save him (Singh) from execution on 28 July.” She said in another tweet that Singh was “facing death sentence in a drug case”.

Among the 10 foreign nationals facing execution in Indonesia are Pakistani citizen Zulfiqar Ali, a Zimbabwean, a Senegalese, a South African and five Nigerians, Amnesty International said.

“Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as ‘Jokowi’, will be putting his government on the wrong side of history if he proceeds with a fresh round of executions,” it said in a statement.

In a report published last year, Amnesty had found 12 of the prisoners were “denied access to legal counsel at the time of their arrest, and at different periods thereafter”. Some claimed they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in police custody, and were forced to “confess” to their alleged crimes. These claims have not been investigated by authorities, it said

The last executions in Indonesia were carried out in January and April 2015, when a total of 14 people were put to death by firing squad. The previous administration under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono carried out 21 executions between 2005 and 2013.

Indonesia has a strong record of fighting for the rights of its citizens abroad on death row but that is a position the authorities do not consistently uphold at home, where President Widodo has claimed the death penalty is needed to deter drug crime, Amnesty said.

“There is no evidence to support President Widodo’s position. The death penalty does not deter crime. Carrying out executions will not rid Indonesia of drugs. It is never the solution, and it will damage Indonesia’s standing in the world,” said Josef Benedict, deputy director of Amnesty’s Southeast Asia and Pacific regional office.

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