Indonesia Executes 4 Drug Convicts

Kusumasari Ayuningtyas
Cilacap, Indonesia
160728_ID_Deathpenalty_1000.jpg Indonesian Women’s Coalition of Cilacap protest at ijayapura Pier, Cilacap, Central Java, as they ask for clemency for death row inmate Merri Utami, July 28, 2016.
Kusumasari Ayuningtyas/BenarNews

Indonesia executed four drug convicts by firing squad early Friday (local time), but postponed putting to death 10 others who faced capital punishment, officials said.

An Indonesian, two Nigerians and a South African were executed at Nusakambangan, a prison island in Central Java province, at around 12:45 a.m., Deputy Attorney General Noor Rachmad told reporters.

Pending executions of the 10 other drug felons were postponed indefinitely,  Noor added but without giving a reason.

“They [the four] are executed first because of their roles as drug dealers, suppliers and dealers. The executions took place at the police station at Nusakambangan,” Noor said, adding, “This was through a comprehensive consideration because their acts were massive. …”

He identified the executed convicts as Indonesian Freddy Budiman, Nigerians Humprey “Jeff” Ejike Eleweke and Michael Titus Igweh, and South African Seck Osmane.

“This is not a fun job. For us, this is really a sad job because it involves people’s lives,” AFP quoted Noor as saying. “This was done not in order to take lives, but to stop evil intentions, and the evil act of drug trafficking.

"As of now, we don't know whether the others will seek clemency. There  are many considerations that must be studied," he said.

The final hours

Hours earlier on Thursday, family members and lawyers representing the 14 – identified as four Indonesians, five Nigerians, and one each from India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and South Africa – revealed that their executions would take place on Friday morning.

“Yes, it is final. The execution will be conducted after midnight. We, the family have been told by the prosecutor. We and our lawyers had been gathered inside,” a relative of one of the convicts told BenarNews upon leaving a closed-door meeting at the Cilacap District Attorney’s office on Thursday evening.

According to Indian media reports, India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, was busy Thursday with eleventh-hour efforts to win a reprieve for Gurdip Singh, the lone Indian among the 14 convicts condemned to die in Indonesia.

The executions of the four were the third set carried out under the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo since he took office in October 2014. Previously, Indonesia executed eight drug convicts, including two Australians, a Brazilian and two Nigerians, on April 29, 2015, and six others drug felons on Jan. 18, 2015.

Ricky Gunawan, a lawyer representing Ejike Eleweke, complained about the process.

“From Monday until now, the process has not been transparent,” Gunawan told BenarNews, pointing out that officers had told him and his client’s family only that they should be ready on Thursday night.

In Jakarta on Thursday, Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo asked all parties to not speculate about when the imminent executions would occur.

“This is about a person’s life. Even though they are guilty and lose their right to live, they have to be respected, appreciated …,” he told reporters.

“Every minute, every second, there is an appeal. It is not a simple thing. Be patient,” he said, adding that his office had considered all aspects of judicial decisions in each death-sentence case.

“Once you take the life of a person, you can’t return it,” he said.

Final preparation

Throughout the daytime, ferries carrying 17 ambulances and coffins departed Wijayapura Pier for Nusakambangan island, the penal island Cilacap regency.

Dozens of armed police officers patrolled the area, which was barricaded and closed to the public. All told, about 1,500 personnel were deployed to maintain security around the executions.

“This ambulance will go straight to Nusakambangan, I do not know when I will return,” said Saripto, a driver waiting for the ferry.

Ambulances wait on Wijayapura Pier to be ferried to Nusakambangan island, July 28, 2016. (Kusumasari Ayuningtyas/BeritaBenar)


While preparations continued on the island, activists from the Indonesian Women Coalition in Cilacap, rallied in front of the Wijayapura pier in the late afternoon to protest against the scheduled execution of Merri Utami, an Indonesian female convict.

“We support the execution of a drug kingpin, but Merri is a victim,” said a protester identified as Muji.

The rally lasted less than 10 minutes before police broke it up, taking the protesters into custody to be questioned at a police station.

Amnesty International also protested the executions, according to The Guardian.

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

Arie Firdaus and Tia Asmara in Jakarta contributed to this rep


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