World

Bali 9: Indonesia confirms executions of 8 people for drug trafficking

Indonesia brushed aside last-minute appeals and executed eight people convicted of drug smuggling, although a woman from the Philippines was granted a stay of execution.

Execution of Mary Jane Veloso delayed after appeal from Philippines

Indonesian activists hold portraits of nine convicted drug traffickers, eight of whom were executed Tuesday. Indonesia ignored last-minute pleas from activists and foreign governments and agreed to halt only one of the executions. (Achmad Ibrahim/Associated Press)

Indonesia brushed aside last-minute appeals and executed eight people convicted of drug smuggling, although a woman from the Philippines was granted a stay of execution.

Indonesian Attorney General Muhammad Prasety told a news conference that each of the eight had been executed on Wednesday by a 13-member firing squad. They included two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian.

Prasetyo earlier said Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso had been granted a stay of execution while the Philippines investigates her case.

These executions are both cruel and unnecessary.- Tony Abbott, Australian prime minister

But gunshots were heard about 12:30 a.m. local time (17:30 GMT) from Nusakambangan island where executions take place, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia will withdraw its ambassador from Jakarta in response to the executions of two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31.

"These executions are both cruel and unnecessary," Abbott told reporters.

"Cruel because both Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran spent some decade in jail before being executed and unnecessary because both of these young Australians were fully rehabilitated while in prison."

Chan and Sukumaran were thought to be the ringleaders of the Bali 9, a group of Australian drug smugglers arrested in 2005 at an airport on the Indonesian island of Bali for trying to smuggle 8 kg of heroin into Australia.

2nd Brazilian to die

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement the execution of a second Brazilian citizen in Indonesia this year "marks a serious event in the relations between the two countries."

Brazil had asked for a stay of execution for Rodrigo Gularte, 42, on humanitarian grounds because he was schizophrenic.

Activists hold a candlelight vigil for Mary Jane Veloso outside the Indonesian embassy in Makati, Philippines. Veloso's life was spared after appeals from the Philippines, which said she may be a key witness in the prosecution of drug syndicates. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)
Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira was one of six drug convicts, including foreigners, that Jakarta executed in January, brushing aside last-minute appeals from Brazil and the Netherlands.

Brazil and the Netherlands withdrew their ambassadors from Jakarta in protest at those executions.

But there was relief in Manila when it was announced that Veloso would not be executed with the others.

Mary Jane Veloso's mother, Celia, told Manila radio station DZBB from Indonesia that what happened was "a miracle."

"We thought we've lost my daughter. I really thank God. What my daughter Mary Jane said earlier was true, 'If God wants me to live, even if just by a thread or just in the final minute, I will live,'" Celia Veloso said.

Veloso supporters rejoice

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said "we are relieved that the execution of Mary Jane Veloso was not carried out tonight. The Lord has answered our prayers."

There were cheers from the more than 250 Veloso supporters who held a candlelight vigil outside the Indonesian embassy in Manila.

Marites Veloso, centre, talks with media after visiting her sister, whose execution was stayed Tuesday. (Tatan Syuflana/Associated Press)
"We are very happy. It's euphoric here. Everyone's rejoicing and waving their flags after learning that Mary Jane has been spared," protest leader Renato Reyes said outside the embassy.

Veloso, 30, was arrested in 2010 at the airport in the central Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, where officials discovered about 2.5 kilograms of heroin hidden in her luggage.

Prasetyo said Veloso was granted a stay of execution because her alleged boss has been arrested in the Philippines, and the authorities there requested Indonesian assistance in pursuing the case.

"This delay did not cancel the execution. We just want to give a chance in relation with the legal process in the Philippines," Prasetyo said.

The woman who allegedly recruited Veloso to work in Kuala Lumpur, Maria Kristina Sergio, surrendered to police in the Philippines on Monday, National Police Officer-in-Charge, Deputy Director-General Leonardo A. Espina said.

Veloso has maintained that she was used as a drug mule without her knowledge.

Sukumaran and Chan families react

Michael Chan, brother of Andrew Chan, who became a Christian pastor during his decade in prison and married an Indonesian woman on Monday, reacted with anger.

The executions were carried out by firing squad, with 12 marksmen, three of whom had live ammunition. (Achmad Ibrahim/Associated Press)
"I have just lost a courageous brother to a flawed Indonesian legal system. I miss you already RIP my Little Brother," Michael Chan tweeted.

"Today, we lost Myu and Andrew, our sons, our brothers," the Sukumaran and Chan families later said in a statement.

"In the 10 years since they were arrested, they did all they could to make amends, helping many others. They asked for mercy, but there was none," the statement added.

The executions were widely condemned.

"The execution of these eight people for non-violent drug offenses will do nothing to reduce the availability of drugs in Indonesia or other countries, or protect people from drug abuse." Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance said in a statement.

London-based Amnesty International called on Indonesia to abandon plans for further executions.

"These executions are utterly reprehensible," Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International's research director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.

Ambulances seen on prison island

Ambulances carrying coffins arrived Tuesday at a prison island and relatives paid final visits to their condemned loved ones as Indonesia announced it would execute the eight foreigners and one Indonesian man on drug charges.

An ambulance arrives from the prison island of Nusakambangan where the executions were carried out, in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia. It was one of eight ambulances thought to be carrying the bodies of the dead. (Tatan Syuflana/Associated Press)
Eight ambulances carrying coffins were seen driving through the port city of Cilacap, where the prison island ferry lands, more than four hours after the reported executions. They were thought to be carrying the bodies of the executed.

Sukumaran and Chan requested that their bodies be flown back to Australia. Nigerian Martin Anderson chose to be buried in the West Java town of Bekasi, and fellow Nigerian Raheem Agbaje, wanted to be buried in the East Java town of Madiun where he had been a prisoner. Indonesian Zainal Abidin is to be buried in Cilacap.

The wishes of two other Nigerians — Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise and Okwudili Oyatanze — as well as those of Gularte, the Brazilian, have yet to be made public.

Originally, 10 inmates were to be executed, but Frenchman Serge Atlaoui was excluded from the latest executions because he still had an outstanding court appeal against President Joko Widodo's rejection of his clemency application.

Widodo has vowed to show no mercy to drug criminals.

The government says Atlaoui will face a firing squad alone if his appeal is rejected by the Administrative Court.

The latest executions brought to 14 the number of drug traffickers shot in Indonesia under Widodo's administration, which took power in October last year.

Joko Widodo's steadfastness on the executions, which have strong public support at home, stands in contrast to a series of policy flip-flops since he took office six months ago.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story implied the eight people executed Tuesday were members of the group known as the Bali Nine. In fact, only Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were part of the group.
    Apr 28, 2015 3:43 PM ET

With files from The Associated Press

now