Activists maintain fight for death row Indonesian Catholics

Indonesian human rights and church activists will continue fighting to save three Catholics sentenced to death for their role in sectarian violence and whose execution is thought to be imminent.

AsiaNews.it reports that the three inmates, Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu, have been condemned to death for the massacre of Muslims during interreligious clashes in Poso, Central Sulawesi, in 2000 which left over 1,000 people dead.

Despite the decision by Indonesia's Supreme Court against reopening the case which human rights and church groups claim would exonerate the three men, activists vowed to continue fighting against the death sentences.

At a media conference held on Thursday in Jakarta, a number of human rights activists voiced their deepest concern over the inflexibility shown by the Attorney General Office and the Supreme Court.

"Both are more concerned with the letter of the law and fail to consider one of its fundamental aspects, namely respect for humanity and human rights," the groups said.

According to Papang Hidayat from the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence the death penalty is a violation of a person's human rights, which should guarantee every citizen the right to life.

Representatives from two legal aid agencies agree. "Our legal system, which gives prosecutors the right to enforce death penalties, is a legacy of the old Dutch criminal code. The spirit of colonialism has no right to exist any more," they said at the media conference.

The last hope now for the three Catholics sentenced to death lies with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has not yet responded to a second appeal for pardon made a few weeks ago by the families and attorneys of Fabianus Tibo and his two co-accused.

Last month, Benedict XVI sent an envoy, Bishop Joseph Suwatan, to comfort the three men.

Human rights activists are not giving up on three Indonesian Catholics (AsiaNews.it 7/4/06)

Second clemency plea for death row Indonesian Catholics (CathNews 28/3/06)
Pope sends envoy to death row Indonesians (CathNews 22/3/06)
Indonesian bishop concerned about resurgence of violence in Poso (CathNews 16/8/02)

Court Upholds Death Sentence for 3 Catholics (Zenit 6/4/06)
Second appeal to reopen case of three Catholics sentenced to death rejected (AsiaNews.it 6/4/06)
AG: death sentence of three Indonesian Catholics is irrevocable (AsiaNews.it 5/4/06)
Execution of 3 Catholics Postponed (Zenit 2/4/06)
Second clemency request for Catholics sentenced to death over Poso violence (AsiaNews.it 27/3/06)

10 Apr 2006