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Indian facing the gallows may not be pardoned, says Indonesian President

india Updated: Dec 11, 2016 14:24 IST
Bogor, PTI

Activists light candles around posters with the names of death row inmates awaiting executions, including that of India national Gurdip Singh, during a vigil against death penalty outside the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia on July 28, 2016. (AP)

An Indian national facing the death sentence in Indonesia on charges of drug smuggling may not be pardoned, President Joko Widodo has indicated, by saying that the capital penalty is handed down only to individuals who have carried out serious crimes and is not based on nationality.

Ahead of his state visit to India, Widodo said, “My duty as President is to uphold the law and Indonesia’s sovereignty. This will be applied in all cases, including those involving capital punishment”.

Read | Not executed, but not safe: Gurdip’s fate hangs in balance in Indonesia

Asked if he would pardon Indian national Gurdip Singh, who is facing death sentence in Indonesia on drug charges since 2004, the president told PTI “The death penalty is imposed only on individuals who have carried out serious crimes, and is not based on nationality.”

Indonesia has 1.2 million people addicted to drugs, 40 to 50 of them die daily due to drug abuse and 4.5 million are undergoing rehabilitation, he said.

Singh, 48, was arrested at the Soekarno Hatta airport in 2004 for smuggling 300 grams of heroin. His execution by firing squad was deferred on July 29 this year.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at that time had said that India was exploring all legal options to prevent his execution.

Appealing to the Indonesian government for mercy to Singh, his wife Kulwinder Kaur had said he has spent 14 years in jail which was enough penance for his crime if he was guilty and he should be sent back.

Widodo, however, said, “Drugs are a serious threat to Indonesia, and in particular for the country’s younger generation. Indonesia is now facing an emergency situation due to illicit drug trafficking and abuse.”

Indonesia continues to act decisively to address this drug problems through law enforcement and international cooperation, he said.

“We also run a variety of programmes to increase public awareness of the dangers of drugs,” the president said adding that death penalty remains a part of Indonesian law.

Read | ‘Be strong’: When Indian man on death row made ‘last call’ to kin from Indonesia