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Drug woman's execution delayed

Published 28/04/2015

Coffins which will be delivered to the prison island of Nusakambangan ahead of the execution of drug convicts (AP)
Coffins which will be delivered to the prison island of Nusakambangan ahead of the execution of drug convicts (AP)

A Philippine woman convict, one of nine people due to face a firing squad, has won a stay of execution, Indonesia's attorney general said today.

Attorney general Muhammad Prasetyo did not comment on whether the executions of two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian man had been carried out as scheduled shortly after midnight local time (6pm UK time).

Indonesia media reported that the eight had been executed, citing official though unidentified sources.

Brazil's foreign ministry confirmed the execution of a Brazilian.

Gunshots were heard around 12:30am local time (6.30pm) from Nusakambangan island where executions take place.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso had been arrested in 2010 at the airport in the central Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, where officials discovered about 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) of heroin hidden in her luggage.

Prasetyo said Veloso was granted a stay of execution because her alleged boss has been arrested in the Philippines, and the authorities there requested Indonesian assistance in pursuing the case.

"This delay did not cancel the execution. We just want to give chance in relation with the legal process in the Philippines," Prasetyo said.

Mary Jane Veloso's mother, Celia, told Manila radio station DZBB from Indonesia that what happened was "a miracle".

"We thought we've lost my daughter. I really thank God. What my daughter Mary Jane said earlier was true, 'If God wants me to live, even if just by a thread or just in the final minute, I will live'," Celia Veloso said.

"That's what she said and it became true. So I really thank God for this miracle that happened to my child," she said.

Michael Chan, the brother of Australian prisoner Andrew Chan, 31, who became a Christian pastor during his decade in prison, reacted with anger.

"I have just lost a courageous brother to a flawed Indonesian legal system. I miss you already RIP my little brother," Michael Chan tweeted.

Jakarta executed six drug convicts including foreigners in January, brushing aside last-minute appeals from Brazil and the Netherlands. More than 120 people are on death row, including 49 drug convicts.

The executions were widely condemned.

"The execution of these eight people for non-violent drug offences will do nothing to reduce the availability of drugs in Indonesia or other countries, or protect people from drug abuse." Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance said in a statement.

"All it demonstrates is the savagery of which governments are capable," he added.

London-based Amnesty International called on Indonesia to abandon plans for further executions.

"These executions are utterly reprehensible," Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International's research director for south-east Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.

"They were carried out with complete disregard for internationally recognised safeguards on the use of the death penalty," he added.

He said the prisoners were killed despite having at least two ongoing legal appeals. Some were reportedly not provided access to competent lawyers or interpreters during their arrest and initial trial, in violation of their right to a fair trial, he said.

Brazil's foreign ministry confirmed that Rodrigo Gularte, 42, was executed.

Ambulances carrying coffins arrived earlier at the prison island and relatives paid final visits to their condemned loved ones as Indonesia announced it would execute the eight foreigners and one Indonesian man on drug charges, despite an international outcry and pleas for mercy.

The nine inmates were given 72-hour notices over the weekend that they would be executed by a firing squad, prompting a flurry of last-minute lobbying by foreign leaders. The United Nations has argued that their crimes - possession of heroin, marijuana or cocaine - were not egregious enough to warrant the ultimate punishment.

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