Reports of torture before execution of Indonesian Catholics

Lawyers and family members of three Indonesian Catholics executed last Friday for inciting violence against Muslims claims that the bodies of the men have bruises, broken bones and even a stab wound.

The Jakarta Post reports that the family of one of three Catholic convicts, Dominggus da Silva, has called for his body be exhumed for a second time to check for evidence of torture. But police has denied accusations he was tortured before being executed.

Da Silva's adoptive father Anselmus da Silva said that the autopsy report would be used by the family and his lawyers to file a lawsuit over the execution with the International Court of Justice.

"We're convinced that the execution was not done in accordance with procedures, which explains why the executors buried the body immediately without informing his family members," Anselmus said.

National Police spokesman Insp Gen Paulus Purwoko told the Post that the family's remarks were made based on information from people claiming to have seen the body, who told them that it appeared to have four bullet wounds, a stab wound and some bruises and broken bones.

Da Silva was originally buried in Palu, Central Sulawesi, where the three convicts were executed, before his body was exhumed by his lawyers and church members. The body was bathed, a wake was held at the local Church and the body was then sent back to da Silva's hometown in Maumere, West Nusa Tenggara, for a proper burial.

"The execution was conducted in line with technical instructions from the National Police Headquarters," Purwoko said as quoted by Detikcom online news agency.

He said that there were a dozen shooters for each of the three condemned men, half of whom were given blanks without their knowledge.

A lawyer for the men, Stephen Roy Rening said that in line with a 1964 law on executions, the firing squad was only allowed to fire one shot at the heart.

"If the first shot is done and an examination shows that the convict is still alive, the firing squad will be allowed to aim their rifle at the head above the ear.

"The fact is that the executed trio were shot several times," Rening said.

"We would never have expected such a thing," Mr Rening added, according to an Asia News report.

"Now we must clear things up. Not only national laws might have been violated, but so could have international law. Having lost faith in Indonesia's legal system, we are left only with international institutions," he said.

Some of the team's members are in fact already leaving for Europe and the United States, he added.

In another report, Catholic News Agency quotes the organisation Christian Freedom International as saying that the Indonesian government must protect Christians.

The US-based human rights group says the allegedly unfair trial of the three Catholic men and their execution is the tip of the iceberg regarding injustices toward Christians in the Asian country.

Death penalty is revenge

Meanwhile, in comments on another capital case in North Dakota, US, Bishop Samuel Aquila says that imposing the death sentence "reinforces the false perspective of revenge as justice".

The Universe reports Bishop Aquila was commenting on a death penalty imposed on convicted murderer Alfonso Rodriguez Jr for the kidnap, rape and murder of a 22 year-old university student three years ago.

The death penalty "obscures for all of society the truth of the inherent dignity of human life", Bishop Aquila said.

"Responding to this senseless act of violence with another act of violence through imposition of the death penalty does not erase the hurt caused by the first act," he added.

"Rather, it reinforces the false perspective of revenge as justice. In doing so, it diminishes respect for all human life, both the lives of the guilty and the innocent."

Should a sentencing hearing due to be held in January not appeal the decision to execute Mr Rodriguez by lethal injection, he will become the first person executed in North Dakota for almost a century.

Charges that the bodies of three Catholics executed in Indonesia show signs of violence (Asia News, 27/9/06)
Police deny torturing executed Poso convict (Jakarta Post, 27/9/06)
Death Penalty is 'Revenge' Says US Bishop (The Universe, 27/9/06)

Indonesia allows executed Catholic's body to return home (CathNews, 26/9/06)
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)

28 Sep 2006