[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jan 25 17:10:00 CST 2006
Sulawesi bishop calls for cancelling death sentence imposed on 3 Catholics
In a meeting with the attorney general in Jakarta today, Bishop Suwatan of
the diocese of Manado asked him to call off the executions. A leader from
the Muslim community in North Sulawesi was with him. The 3 men on death
row are scapegoats. If they are executed, the true identity of the
culprits wont be known.
Mgr Joseph Suwatan, bishop of Manado, wants the death sentence imposed on
3 Indonesian Catholics be cancelled. He made the request in a meeting
today with Indonesias Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh, in his Jakarta
office. With him were Arifin Assegaf, a member of the Indonesian Ulemas
Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia or MUI) of North Sulawesi and Rev Nico
Gara from the Manado-based Christian Indonesian University.
Poso, the scene of bloody clashes between Christians and Muslims in
1998-2001 that left about 2,000 people dead, is within the jurisdiction of
Bishop Suwatans diocese. And it is as a result of a series of murders in
Poso in 2000 that the Palu District Court and Indonesias Supreme Court
sentenced Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu to death. The
three Catholics have been in prison since 2001 and even if no date has
been officially set, their execution is fast approaching.
Although Bishop Suwatan did not release any statement following his
meeting with the attorney general, MUI leader Assegaf, who is also a
member of the inter-faith forum Poso Solidarity, explained why they took
"We want the death sentence to be cancelled because the 3 men have
important revelations to make. This cannot be ignored," he said.
Speaking from prison, Fabianus Tibo revealed that 16 people were involved
in the 2000 sectarian clashes, including local authorities. But his
information was not part of the trial record, or presented during the
appeal process to the Supreme Court.
According to the Muslim clergyman, Tibo and his fellow inmates are just
"scapegoats of this organised crime. They are ordinary peasants,
semi-literate and someone in Poso made sure that they would be found
guilty for the clashes of 2000 and 2001".
Rev Gara stressed the importance of cancelling the death sentences as well
in order to address Tibos claims in a court of law.
"Tibo is key witness," he said. "Should the executions take place the real
identity of the culprits won't be known."
Meanwhile, the 3 men's defence lawyer, John Panjaitan, announced that he
was ready to submit new evidence on behalf of his clients.
He also slammed those who have tried to "politicise" the case. "Their
purpose is clear. Tibo and the others will be executed and the real
culprits will not be found," he said.
At the Attorney General's Office (AGO) however, the case is closed. "The
supreme and local courts have decided and we can only execute their
orders," said an AGO spokesperson.
Within Indonesia the trial of the three Catholic men remains
controversial. Its proceedings were marred by large-scale intimidation by
Islamic fundamentalists. Moreover, no Muslim has so far been indicted, let
alone tried for the events in question.
(source: Asia News)
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