The eight men who were executed in Indonesia sang Amazing Grace until their voices were interrupted by the sounds of gunshots. The Brazilian man who was executed had schizophrenia and was not aware he was going to be killed. In the minutes before and after the Indonesian execution took place, police and jail officers were crying.
Meanwhile, the children of the Filipina who was given reprieve at the last minute woke up to good news. They rejoiced by shouting: “Mama is alive! Mama is alive!”
Convicts sang Amazing Grace and refused blind folds, looking death straight in the eye
All eight men executed in Indonesia by firing squad refused to have their eyes blindfolded. They stared at the police and their guns while they sang Amazing Grace and Bless the Lord O My Soul until their voices were cut off by gunfire.
Pastor Karina de Vega who witnessed the execution said the men all praised God up until the last minute.
“They were praising their God. It was breathtaking. This was the first time I witnessed someone so excited to meet their God,” Pastor de Vega told the Sydney Morning Herald.
All eight men, even the non-Christian, sang praises from the heart.
“They bonded together. Brotherhood. They sang one song after another. Praising God. They sang a few songs together, like in a choir. The non-Christian, I believe, also sang from his heart. It was such an experience,” de Vega shared.
Pastor Tuhu Santoso, who led the mass before the execution, said Nigerian convict Raheem Agbaje Salami spoke of how Jesus will save him. Australian Andrew Chan played the guitar and read a verse from the Bible.
Outside the prison cell, the families lit candles. They were praying the Lord’s Prayer when they were all startled by the gunshots inside the execution site.
Father Charles Burrows, spiritual counselor to Brazilian convict Rodrigo Gularte, said the eight men embraced their fates.
“Everyone was looking forward, it seems everyone accepted their fate,” he said.
Brazilian Man in his delusional state did not know he is going to be killed
Burrows said the hardest part of his experience was explaining to Gularte that he was going to be killed. He said due to Gularte’s schizophrenia, he kept forgetting he was going to be executed up until his final minutes.
“He was hearing voices all the time. I talked to him for about an hour and a half, trying to prepare him for the execution. I said to him, ‘I’m 72 years old, I’ll be heading to heaven in the near future, so you find out where my house is and prepare a garden for me,’” Burrows said as reported by The Guardian.
“But when they took [the prisoners] out of the cells … and when they put these bloody chains on them, he said to me, ‘Am I being executed?’ I said, ‘Yes, I thought I explained that you.’ He didn’t get excited – he’s a quiet sort of a guy – but he said, ‘This is not right.’” Burrows recalled.
Burrows said Gularte was lost because of his mental illness. He saw him talk with plants and animals and was consistently afraid of the satellites he can see from his prison cell.
“He’s lost because he’s a schizophrenic. He asked if there was a sniper outside ready to shoot him, and I said no, and whether somebody would shoot him in the car, and I said no.”
Burrows said he was given the chance to spoke to Gularte when he was already tied to a wooden plank right before the firing squad.
“He said, ‘This is not right, I made one small mistake, and I shouldn’t have to die for it.’ So he was annoyed more than anything else, because he’s a soft-spoken, quiet and sensitive man.”
“My Mama is Alive!”
On the night of execution, the two sons of Filipina convict Mary Jane Veloso were asleep inside a van outside the execution site.
As previously reported by Morning News USA, Veloso was given reprieve following requests by the Philippine government to have her testify against a human trafficking suspect.
Journalists who learned that Veloso was spared from execution woke her two sons and delivered the news.
“My mama is alive! My mama is alive,” the two boys aged 12 and six said.
Prior to her reprieve, Veloso had also embraced her fate. She put on a calm façade as she spoke to her sons during what she thought was her last moments.
“Don’t think that I died because I did something wrong. Be proud of your mother because she died owning up to the sins of others,” Veloso told her sons.
Burrows said that Veloso had shown “a false sense of joy” during the supposed last visit of her family and two sons. However, she broke in tears when she was asked that the visiting time was up.
“She begged for more time, ‘Will I not get longer time with my children? They’ll never see me again, I’ll never see them again,’” Burrows shared.
At this point, Burrows said everybody in the prison broke in tears, including Indonesian jail officers.
“The whole place broke down in tears. The warden and attorneys felt real bad about it. They said to me they didn’t agree with the thing, they just had to do their job, that there should be a moratorium,” Burrows said.
The jail guards approached Burrows and asked him: “Are we responsible for the suffering of this poor woman and the families?”
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