[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jun 9 12:26:02 CDT 2005
People's Union for Democratic Rights
5, Miranda House Teachers' Flats, Chhatra Marg, Delhi University, Delhi
PRESS RELEASE - 9 June 2005
Information on Death Penalty: A State Secret?
Information relating to the execution of the death penalty in India is a
state secret - this is the reply received by the People's Union for
Democratic Rights (PUDR) in response to an application filed under the
Delhi Right to Information Act, 2001 to know details of persons who had
been executed in Tihar Prisons in Delhi since 1947. In its reply dated 12
May 05, the DIG (Prisons) refused to provide the information on the
grounds that, "some of the persons who have been executed had been
convicted for various offences having prejudicial affect on the
sovereignty and integrity of India and security of NCT of Delhi and
international relations and could lead to incitement of an offence". The
reply also claims that the information "would not serve any public
While information relating to the execution of death sentences in India
has always been shrouded in secrecy, this is the first instance where a
government authority has stated, in writing, that such information is
effectively a state secret. It is mystifying that the Government is going
as far as using defences of national sovereignty and international
relations to deny information relating to judicial executions that have
been carried out. The refusal and grounds for refusal provided of the
Delhi authorities raise further concern especially given that the office
of the Inspector General of Prisons, Pune had provided this information
for Maharashtra State in another identical application filed by PUDR under
the Maharashtra Right to Information Act earlier this year.
In April 2005, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights observed,
"[i]n a considerable number of countries information concerning the death
penalty is cloaked in secrecy - [s]uch secrecy is incompatible with human
rights standards in various respects". The reply of the authorities in
Delhi completely ignores the UN Commission and human rights standards and
places India in the dubious company of Vietnam, China and Uzbekistan where
executions are state secrets, said the PUDR spokesperson.
PUDR has appealed against this refusal under the Delhi RTI Act and further
calls upon the Government to end the silence and secrecy on the execution
of death sentences and make public all information on people executed.
PUDR opposes the imposition of the death penalty in all cases. It further
believes that an informed public debate on the death penalty cannot take
place in the absence of information on executions that the State is
(source: Deepika Tandon, Secretary -- Email: pudrdelhi at yahoo.com)
Egypt Upholds Death Sentence for Indonesian
Egypts highest authority on Islamic law has upheld the death sentence for
an Indonesian citizen convicted of murdering a Malaysian family of 4.
Grand Mufti Ali Gomoa, in a ruling read out by a Cairo court on Wednesday
(8/6/05), said the death penalty was the "best verdict" for Ali Darman
Agustri (33), a former employee at the Indonesian Embassy in the Egyptian
"Based on Islamic law, Ali Darman Agustri has been declared guilty of
committing premeditated murder on four persons and therefore the death
sentence is the best verdict for him," presiding judge Mustahar Ahmed
Mahamed Rifaat was quoted as saying by Indonesian state news agency
Agustri was on April 6 convicted of murdering Malaysian citizen Muhammad
Zaki Ayyub (27), his wife Nur Hayati Bukhori (27), their daughter Maryam
(3) and son Muadz (11 months) in East Cairo on October 16, 2004.
Ayyubs body was found with multiple stab wounds, inflicted by a kitchen
knife, in a guestroom at his residence, while his wife and 2 children were
found burned to death in another room. Reports said the motive for the
murders was linked to robbery and extortion.
Antara reported that Agustri turned pale on hearing the grand muftis edict
on Wednesday but smiled and tried to keep calm. "I submit to my fate.
Please pray for me," he was quoted as saying.
Five staff from the Indonesian Embassy in Cairo were present in court for
Wednesdays ruling. Indonesian Ambassador to Egypt Bachtiar Ali had earlier
sent a letter to the grand mufti requesting that Agustris sentence be
reduced to life imprisonment, to be served in Indonesia.
Agustris lawyer Amr Ahmed Abdel Hamed Yousef had hoped the request would
be approved, as the grand mufti has in the past reportedly overturned
about 70 death sentences due to legal flaws.
Yousef now plans to challenge his clients sentence at a higher court,
claiming the judges who presided over the case failed to produce any
direct witnesses to the crime.
Ambassador Ali has said Indonesia will respect the final outcome of the
case, as foreign nationals in Indonesia must likewise respect Indonesian
He said the embassy had contacted relatives of the slain Malaysian family
in the hope they would forgive Agustri, but they were not prepared to do
Agustri was born in Padang, West Sumatra, on August 17, 1971, and grew up
in Riau province. He arrived in Cairo on September 7, 1994, to study
Islamic theology at the citys prestigious Al-Azhar University.
After 3 years of study he had failed to pass the 1st level of his course,
so he transferred to the Shariah Islamic Law Faculty, but again failed to
graduate to the 2nd level after another 3 years and dropped out of the
university in 2000.
Agustri subsequently gained employment at the Indonesian Embassy in Cairo,
where he worked as a driver for several senior officials. He was made an
honorary staff member of the embassy in March 2002. He was fired from the
embassy in August 2004 for "being careless" in carrying out his tasks.
His lecturers from Al-Azhar University had expressed disbelief on hearing
that Agusti had been convicted of the multiple murder, describing him as
having a "noble character."
Abdul Zulkifli, an official of the Indonesian Embassy protocol and
consular affairs division, said Agustri has "a bright countenance" in jail
because he has a cell to himself, and has repented to God and increased
his religious devotion.
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