Thursday, September 21, 2006

Three pray as execution nears

From the Jakarta Post: Three death-row convicts received their last rites Wednesday as the deadline neared for their execution in tense Palu, Central Sulawesi, but family members continued to protest their innocence.
The communion was led by Rev. Jimmy Tumbelaka at Petobo penitentiary in south Palu. Jimmy said he wanted to help Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu find solace and strength in prayer.
The Catholic plantation workers were sentenced in 2001 for the massacre of about 200 Muslims during sectarian strife in Poso, Central Sulawesi, six years ago.
A reliable source told The Jakarta Post the executions might go ahead at 1 a.m. Thursday in Palu, or Wednesday midnight here, but Jimmy said they would be held as previously scheduled.
"The executions will be held at dawn Friday (Palu time)," said Jimmy, saying the decision was made following a coordination meeting with the Central Sulawesi Police.
The three, he added, would face a firing squad at an undisclosed location. When pressed, he said it would be a site near Palu's Mutiara Airport.
"The executions, whether tonight or Friday, are illegal. They submitted novum (new evidence) but nothing was done about it," he said.
"They have also filed for a second appeal for clemency, so why force the executions to go ahead? This is illegal."
Tibo's eldest son, Robertus, said Wednesday the family was resigned to his fate, but refused to believe he was guilty.
"We can accept the fact (of the execution), that's why we hope he will be patient since God will not close His eyes to his people."
The families of Dominggus and Marinus had yet to visit as of noon Wednesday.
The executions were scheduled for last month but were delayed at the last minute, with the government saying it was busy preparing for Independence Day celebrations on Aug. 17.
In the meantime, there have been protests and counter-protests by Muslims and Christians, and an appeal from Pope Benedictus for clemency.
Security has been tightened, with 4,000 police officers deployed across the province.
The men appealed for presidential clemency for a second time last month after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono rejected an appeal for a pardon last year.
The head of the Central Sulawesi Assembly of Churches, Rev. Renaldy Damanik, has urged his followers to pray in their own churches or at home, and refrain from actions that may spark more unrest.
"But I believe the executions will be called off again," he said.
Later Wednesday, the penitentiary closed its doors to all visitors, allowing only food inside after a full search conducted by police.

(by Ruslan Sangadji in Palu)

There wasn't a need for all these police five weeks ago when the three were originally were going to be executed before the execution was stopped one hour before it was to take place. The Christians aren't violently protesting and won't cause problems. No large groups of Christians are heading to Palu to disrupt the execution. Church leaders have called for Christians to spend the night in prayer. Why so many police then? The only logical reason they would need this many police in the area is if they were to delay the executions again, then the police would have to control the Muslims angered by the decision. Hmmmm? President Yudhoyono hasn't rendered his verdict on the three men's clemency plea yet. I guess we'll know soon.

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