Further appeal opportunity for Indonesian death row Catholics

Indonesia's Supreme Court has given the green light to a second appeal for three death row Catholics accused of inciting Central Sulawesi's interreligious violence in 2000.

AsiaNews.it reports that the court has called on the Attorney General not to carry out the execution while the appeal is under way.

The Supreme Court has appointed a new group of judges to review the charges against Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu condemned to death for the massacre of Muslims during interreligious clashes in 2000 which left over 1,000 people dead.

The court has appointed a panel of judges to evaluate the second appeal presented by the lawyers of accused.

"The judges chosen are different from those picked for the first review," said Judge Djoko Sarwoko, a spokesman for the court.

The spokesman said: "The (court) had no intention of granting a second revision of the case. However, seeing the national and international concern for the fate of the three convicts, it decided to approach the issue with caution. We must find a way of concluding the matter because as judges, we cannot simply avoid our duties."

These statements are entirely different from statements previously made by Judge Bagi Manan, president of the Supreme Court, who often described the sentence as "fixed".

The court yesterday published a statement "suggesting" that the national Attorney General office "listens to the public conscience in deciding the fate of the three condemned men" because theirs is a "case of humanity".

The judges stressed: "The execution should be suspended at least until the revision of the case is under way."

Judge Sarwoko added: "Should the execution be carried out while the case is still under review, this would be a crime against humanity."

Last month, Benedict XVI sent an envoy, Bishop Joseph Suwatan, to comfort the three men. Catholic and human rights groups claim that the trial against the three Catholics was marred by large-scale Islamic fundamentalist intimidation.

Catholics get second chance to appeal death sentence (AsiaNews.it 18/4/06

Activists maintain fight for death row Indonesian Catholics (CathNews 10/4/06)
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)

Indonesian court allows appeal for Christians facing execution (Catholic World News 18/4/06)
Former Indonesian President against execution of three Catholics (AsiaNews.it 14/4/06)
Don't execute Catholics, says Sulawesi police chief (AsiaNews.it 12/4/06)
Card. Darmaatmadja: spare death row Catholics in the name of peace (AsiaNews.it 11/4/06)
Human rights activists are not giving up on three Indonesian Catholics (AsiaNews.it 7/4/06)
Court Upholds Death Sentence for 3 Catholics (Zenit 6/4/06)

19 Apr 2006