Indonesian death row Catholics lose court appeal

Three Catholics from Poso have had their second appeal against the death penalty rejected by Indonesia's Supreme Court and reportedly are now in isolation cells awaiting execution.

According to AsiaNews, Fabianus Tibo, 60, Dominggus da Silva, 42, and Marinus Riwu, 48, were arrested in 2000, accused and convicted of involvement in a massacre of hundreds of Muslims.

As of 10 May, the three men are in isolation under special custody in the Palu prison in Central Sulawesi in compliance with existing death penalty rules following a failed appeal to the Supreme Court.

The panel of five Supreme Court judges unanimously rejected the second appeal presented by the lawyers of the three accused men. Justice Djoko Sarwoko, who read the verdict on the panel's behalf, explained that "there were no more legal venues available to the [the three prisoners'] defence team".

Relatives of the three condemned men have expressed their grief over the final decision. Tibo's son Robert said that "injustice is all over the place." Other family members are arriving from Palu; the three men are originally from predominantly Catholic Flores Island.

Before leaving Tibo's relatives were blessed by Bishop Vincentius Sensi Potokota of Maumere, Flores. "I am with you who are fighting incessantly for justice with all my strength," the prelate said.

Zenit reports that from 1998 to 2001, bloody confrontations between Christians and Muslims took place on the island, which left more than 2,000 dead.

According to AsiaNews, an agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, the proceedings against the three men were marred by pressure from Muslim extremists.

Bishop Joseph Suwatan of Manado visited the three condemned men in March on behalf of Benedict XVI and communicated the Pope's concern and solidarity.

3 Facing Death Penalty Lose Court Appeal (Zenit 12/5/06)
Three days to go before Catholics are executed (AsiaNews.it 10/5/06)

Further appeal opportunity for Indonesian death row Catholics (CathNews 19/4/06)
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)

Catholic, Protestant leaders react to rumors of satanic church congress (Catholic Online/Union of Catholic Asian News 11/5/06)

16 May 2006