Execution looms again for Indonesian Catholics

Despite an appeal to the International Criminal Court in Geneva, Indonesian authorities have informed three Catholic men convicted of organising a massacre of 200 Muslims in 2000 that their postponed execution is imminent.

Indonesian news agency Antara reports that Fr Jemy Tumbelaka, spiritual adviser for the three condemned men, Fabianus Tibo, Marianus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva, that the date of the execution was decided in a coordination meeting with the police on Monday night.

The three Catholics were found guilty of masterminding a massacre of 200 Muslims in 2000 in Indonesia's Poso during interfaith clashes earlier that year.

"The execution will be conducted after midnight on Friday," Fr Tubelaka said.

Their execution, originally set for last 12 August, has been postponed several times, Zenit agency notes. There have been numerous appeals, from all over the world, including from Benedict XVI, as well as denunciations of the injustice of a trial riddled with illegalities.

Meanwhile, Tibo's lawyer, Roy Rening, said the warrant for the execution on Friday this week was conveyed to the convicted men at midnight on Monday.

"Practically, the execution is to be carried out three days after the warrant was issued," Mr Rening said.

However, the condemned men had refused to sign a document acknowledging receipt of the warrant because they were in the process of using a second opportunity to request pardon from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Earlier, AsiaNews reported an announcement in Jakarta by Peter Selestianus, chairman of PADMA, the lawyers' organisation defending the three men, that the men's case will be taken to the International Criminal Court.

He cited a human rights convention ratified by Jakarta, "to bring to light the injustices taking place in Indonesian trials," confirmed AsiaNews.

Meanwhile, several Muslim leaders, who took part in the recent interreligious meeting organised in Assisi, Italy, have added their voice to appeals and written a letter to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in support of the three condemned men.

All of them appealed for a gesture of clemency to prove "once again that justice is a fundamental principle in Islam."

According to a Courier-Mail report, the men's lawyer, Mr Rening, said that "Tibo and his friends continue to reject their executions because they said they are not the perpetrators of the Poso unrest."

Nevertheless, he said the three were "mentally prepared to face the firing squad" and had passed on their final requests to their visitors.

The men asked that their funeral services be held at the Santa Maria church in Palu, led by a priest from the diocese of Manado, which covers the village where the men lived.

Tibo, he said, had rejected any government assistance for his burial, while da Silva asked that his body be sent to Flores Island, where he was born.

Breaking News: Executions to take place tonight - Tibo requests public execution

Asia News is reporting that the executions will take place early Thursday morning (i.e. after midnight on Wednesday evening).

It says that the three men want to be executed in public. The desire of Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwa, was revealed yesterday by Tibo's eldest son, Robert: "The execution should take place in public, to satisfy those who want our death."

The three Catholics have also expressed their desire to have their coffins exposed to the public in the Cathedral of St Mary of Palu. Tibo and Riwu will be buried in the village of Beteleme in Morowali, Poso, while da Silva will return to his native village in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. "Allow my family to take care of my remains, not the Attorney General's Office," was Tibo's last expressed wish, Asia News says.

"Shoot us in public" last wish of three death row Catholics (Asia News, 20/9/06)
Tibo et al to be executed Friday night (19/9/06)
Indonesian Case Headed to International Court, 3 Catholics Facing Execution (Zenit, 18/9/06)
Christians face death for Muslim attacks (Courier-Mail, 20/9/06)
Execution of "Tibo and friends" fixed for 21 September (Asia News, 19/9/06)

Demonstrators call for execution of Indonesian Catholics (CathNews, 5/9/06)
Fate of Bali bombers raises hope for three condemned Indonesian Catholics (CathNews, 22/8/06)
Miracle last hour stay of execution for death row Indonesians (CathNews, 14/8/06)
Thousands rally to save death row Catholics in Indonesia (CathNews, 11/8/06)
Indonesian Catholics to face firing squad on Saturday (CathNews 10/8/06) a/A>
Indonesian death row Catholics lose court appeal (CathNews 16/5/06)
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 condemns Catholics' death sentence (CathNews 29/11/05)
Looming execution of three Indonesian Catholics (CathNews 17/11/05)
Indonesian bishop concerned about resurgence of violence in Poso (CathNews 16/8/02)

20 Sep 2006