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Indonesia: Mentally ill Brazilian was 'not aware' of imminent execution

A mentally ill Brazilian executed in Indonesia this week was delusional and oblivious to his fate until the final moments before he faced a firing squad, his lawyer and priest said Thursday.

world Updated: Apr 30, 2015 19:00 IST
executed Brazilian,Indonesia executions,convicted drug trafficker

A mentally ill Brazilian executed in Indonesia this week was delusional and oblivious to his fate until the final moments before he faced a firing squad, his lawyer and priest said Thursday.

Convicted drug trafficker Rodrigo Gularte, 42, was executed Wednesday along with six other foreigners and one Indonesian despite his family's pleas that he was a paranoid schizophrenic.

"He had a delusional mind," Gularte's lawyer Ricky Gunawan told AFP, saying the Brazilian failed to appreciate the reality when he was given 72 hours' notice of his execution.

"When we said your death sentence will be implemented, he said, 'What death sentence? I will not be sentenced to death.'"

The disclosure came as a British grandmother on death row expressed fears that she could be next in line for the firing squad and Indonesia played down Canberra's decision to recall its ambassador from Jakarta after two Australians were executed.

"It's like a marriage, you have a fight in the morning but you make up at night," said foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir, a contrast to the mood in Australia where Foreign Minister Julie Bishop stressed there was "nothing normal" about the unprecedented recall.

The executions have sparked a firestorm of international protest, led by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, but President Joko Widodo insists that Indonesia faces a crisis due to rising drug use and has shown little sign of changing course.

Giving more details about Gularte's final days, Gunawan said that he was unsure if the Brazilian "really 100% understood he would be executed", adding that he was adamant that the water on their prison island was poisoned.

The lawyer said he tried to ask Gularte about his final requests, but the Brazilian responded with amusement.

"He was just laughing. 'Is it just like Aladdin, when we ask for three wishes?'" Gunawan quoted Gularte as asking.

"When we tried to talk about the serious things... he kept avoiding, to other silly things. He was calm, as if nothing was happening."

Gularte was arrested in 2004 while trying to enter Indonesia with six kilograms (13.2 pounds) of cocaine in his surfing gear.

'Am I being executed?'

Irish priest Father Charlie Burrows, who was Gularte's counsellor in the final days, said the Brazilian was confused about what was happening as prison guards and police prepared him for death.

"I thought he'd got the message he was to be executed but... when the chains started to go on, he said to me, 'Oh Father... am I being executed?'" Burrows told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"He didn't get angry, he was annoyed. The big thing was, 'Oh, why is this happening, this is not right, I made a small mistake and why can't they just leave me in jail on the island and I won't give anybody any trouble'.

"I'd thought I'd explained to him what was going to happen. Obviously it didn't get through."

Brazil has expressed "deep regret" at Gularte's execution and said it is weighing its next move, having stressed to Indonesia the fragility of his state of mind as grounds for clemency.

The Briton, Lindsay Sandiford, condemned the "senseless, brutal" executions of the Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, and reportedly said she feared she might be next in line for the firing squad.

She was sentenced to death in 2013 for seeking to smuggle a huge stash of cocaine into Bali but claims she was coerced.

Her family recently launched a fundraising drive to collect money to pay for Indonesian lawyers to take an appeal to the Supreme Court after the British government refused to fund her legal fight.

Indonesia said that two of its senior diplomats were summoned in Australia and Brazil after the executions. A spokeswoman for Bishop confirmed there was a meeting on Wednesday but did not provide further details.

Bishop meanwhile called for a regional approach to tackle drug trafficking: "I do not believe that the death penalty is a deterrent to the drug trade that proliferates in this region and I believe we need a regional response."

First Published: Apr 30, 2015 17:32 IST