Indonesia Spares Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, Executes 8

Indonesia Spares Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, Executes 8
Moon Rise Upon My Country Blek / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Indonesia has delayed the execution of Filipina drug convict Mary Jane Veloso, following last-minute appeals from the Philippine government. Eight other convicts, meanwhile, faced death by firing squad on April 29.


Indonesia delays execution of Filipina drug convict

The Indonesian government agreed to delay Veloso’s execution following requests from the Philippine government. The Philippines said that Veloso was a victim of a drug trafficking syndicate who framed her to smuggle drugs to Indonesia by hiding contraband inside her suitcase. A member of the syndicate, Veloso’s alleged recruiter was said to have surrendered to Philippine officials. Veloso will act as a state witness against her.

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs or DFA confirmed that Veloso has received temporary reprieve from the execution.

“We are relieved that the execution of Mary Jane has not been carried out tonight. The Lord has answered our prayers,” Charles Jose, spokesman for the DFA, was quoted as saying by the Inquirer.

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Veloso’s mother, Celia Veloso, was overjoyed about the news.

“You are right. If God wants you alive, even in the last minute, you will stay alive. We are so happy. We will visit you (Mary Jane) right away tomorrow,” Celia said on a local radio station.

Veloso’s lawyer, Edre Olalia, confirmed her exemption from the execution through Minerva Lopez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers.

“Attorney Edre Olalia said that the implementation of the sentence as regards Mary Jane Veloso was suspended until the proceedings in the Philippines against the alleged recruiter Christina Sergio shall have been commenced and concluded,” Lopez said during a vigil held for Veloso.

Indonesia executes eight

The Indonesian government executed eight drug convicts despite worldwide appeal not to proceed with the death penalty. Indonesian president Joko Widodo, on the other hand, appealed for the world to respect the laws of his country.

“The executions were carried out at 12:30 a.m.,” Suhendro Putro, a funeral director for the Javanese Christian Church (GKJ) in Cilacap, said in a short message service as quoted by The Jakarta Post.

The eight convicts executed were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Raheem Agbaje Salami, Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Okwudili Oyatanze, and Ghanaian Martin Anderson. All their final requests were given to them, a government spokesman said.

Australia withdraws Ambassadors from Indonesia

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop announced on Wednesday that Australia will withdraw its Ambassador for consultations once the bodies of Chan and Sukumaran were returned to their respective families. Bishop said ministerial visits will remain suspended.

Unlike Veloso, the Australian government admitted that Chan and Sukumaran have committed a serious crime. However, Australian officials believed that lengthy prison terms would have been an appropriate punishment, Bishop said.

“The Government had hoped that Indonesia would show mercy to these young men, who have worked hard since their arrests to rehabilitate themselves and improve the lives of other prisoners. They committed a serious crime. Lengthy prison terms would have been an appropriate punishment,” Bishop said in a statement.

“Australia respects Indonesia’s sovereignty, but deeply regrets that Indonesia could not extend the mercy it so often seeks for its own citizens,” the statement reads.

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