Indonesia allows executed Catholic's body to return home

Seeking to calm tensions following Friday's execution of three Catholics convicted of inciting religious violence, Indonesian authorities have relented on an earlier decision and allowed one of the three to be buried before a crowd of 10,000 in his Flores hometown.

Asia News reports that authorities gave the go-ahead for the body of Dominggus da Silva to be exhumed and transported to the predominantly Catholic island of Flores where his remains were welcomed at the airport by relatives as well as government officials, local police and army leaders.

Da Silva's body was taken to the Cathedral of St Joseph in Maumere, where the local bishop, Mgr Pareira, celebrated a requiem mass.

Thousands of Catholics and others followed the funeral cortege that took the casket from the church to the small private cemetery in the village of Waidoko.

Fabianus Tibo, 60, and Marinus Riwu, 48, the other two Catholics executed for allegedly masterminding violence targeting the Muslim community in Poso in 2000 were also buried yesterday.

The three executed men have insisted they were not guilty, but President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono turned down their final appeal last year.

Amnesty International and church groups said they were concerned at reports indicating that the trial of the three men did not meet international standards of fairness.

The first was buried in Beteleme village, Morowali in central Sulawesi province, in a ceremony presided over by Fr Jimmy Tumbelaka - spiritual director of the three men - and attended by 5,000 people; the second went to another district also in central Sulawesi province.

In a statement, the Holy See said it had heard the news of the execution "with great regret", the International Herald Tribune reports.

The statement listed efforts by the Pope and Vatican officials to halt the executions, and said the appeals were on a "strictly humanitarian level" and were "inspired by the well known position of the Catholic Church on the death penalty."

Judicial murder, say relatives

However relatives of the three men have accused Indonesian authorities of "judicial murder", pledging to bring the case to the International Criminal Court, AsiaNews says in a later report.

According to a lawyer for the three men, relatives plan to sue the Indonesian state in the International Criminal Court in Geneva for taking "malicious actions against innocent citizens whose lives it should have protected."

Alexius Adu said he had evidence that shows that the execution of the three men by a firing squad was a "judicial murder".

"Jakarta violated the law in violating the human rights of these people who were even denied a religious funeral", he said.

Body of Dominggus da Silva returns to Flores after execution in Palu (Asia News, 25/9/06)
The execution of three Indonesian Catholics was judicial murder (Asia News, 25/9/06)
Vatican expresses 'great regret' over Indonesia executions, calls for reconciliation (International Herald Tribune (23/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)

Indonesian Catholics executed this morning (CathNews, 22/9/06)
Execution looms again for Indonesian Catholics (CathNews, 20/9/06)
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)

26 Sep 2006