Indonesia to go ahead with executions despite international outcry

A Filipino woman facing the death penalty in Indonesia was moved on Friday to an island prison where she and nine other drug convicts are to be executed by firing squad.

world Updated: Apr 24, 2015 20:18 IST
Indonesia,executions,firing squad

A Filipino woman facing the death penalty in Indonesia was moved on Friday to an island prison where she and nine other drug convicts are to be executed by firing squad.

An armored personnel carrier and a car were seen arriving at a port for the short trip to Nusakambangan island, which houses a high security prison, and prison officials said Mary Jane Veloso was inside the car.

Tony Spontana, a spokesman for the Indonesian attorney general, confirmed that Veloso had been moved.

A police armoured vehicle arrives with Philippine death row prisoner Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso at Wijaya Pura port before crossing to the prison island of Nusakambangan. (Reuters)

"She was directly placed in an isolation room separated from the other nine," Spontana said, adding that her move followed up on orders for prosecutors to prepare executions once all legal aspects had been fulfilled.

Nine of the inmates awaiting execution are foreigners, and Spontana said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited representatives of their home countries to come Saturday to Nusakambangan island. He did not elaborate.

Indonesian officials have not said when the executions will take place but has vowed to carry them out despite their home countries' objections. The other foreigners are three Nigerian men, two Australian men and a man each from Brazil, Ghana and France.

A ferry transports police vehicles carrying Philippine death row prisoner Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso to the prison island of Nusakambangan. (Reuters)

International outcry

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop appealed for Indonesia to show mercy but said she feared the worst. "I fear that Indonesia will seek to proceed with the execution of the two Australian citizens. I am deeply and profoundly concerned about this," she said while at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Veloso's case has caused a public outcry in the Philippines. She traveled to Indonesia in 2010 where her godsister reportedly told her a job as a domestic worker awaited her. Her godsister also allegedly provided the suitcase where the drugs were found.

Mary Jane Veloso's family. (Reuters)

Appeals have been exhausted for all 10 condemned inmates except Raheem Agbaje Salame of Nigeria, who filed a request for a judicial review.

The planned executions have soured relations between Indonesia and other countries. President Joko Widodo has vowed not to grant mercy to drug offenders because Indonesia is suffering a "drug emergency."

In Paris, French President Francois Hollande urged Indonesian authorities to grant clemency to Atlaoui, telling a news conference that executing Atlaoui "would be damaging for the relations we want to have with Indonesia."

Protesters pause for a prayer as they gather outside the Indonesian Embassy in the financial district of Makati city. (AP Photo)

How executions are carried out

Prisoners are executed by firing squad, recruited from a special unit of the national police.

Recruits for the firing squad are chosen based on their marksmanship and "physical and spiritual health". They are given counselling before and after executions.

Inmates are moved into isolation cells 72 hours before execution. Families and religious counsellors are allowed visits up to a few hours before execution.

Prisoners are given the choice to stand, kneel or sit before the firing squad, and to be blindfolded. Their hands and feet are tied.

Each prisoner has 12 marksmen aiming rifles at his or her heart. Only three of the 12 have live ammunition in their weapons. Authorities say this is so that the executioner remains unidentified.

Medical personnel are on site to pronounce the prisoner dead after execution.

Bodies are cleaned and handed over to families, who wait outside the prison during the execution.

First Published: Apr 24, 2015 19:50 IST