Titus Igwe, one among other Nigerians executed

Indonesia rejected mounting international pressure and desperate pleas from relatives to halt the execution of 14 drug convicts it sentenced to death by firing squad.

Three Nigerians were put to death along with one Indonesian on Thursday (after midnight Indonesian time), Noor Rachmad, deputy attorney general for general crimes, told reporters.

He did not say why 10 other drug convicts, who had been expected to face the firing squad, were not executed, although the island where the convicts were being put to death was hit by a major storm as the executions took place.

“The executions were for now conducted on four convicts on death row,” he said.

“This is not a fun job. For us, this is really a sad job because it involves people’s lives.

“This was done not in order to take lives but to stop evil intentions, and the evil act of drug trafficking.”

Authorities stepped up preparations, with ambulances seen transporting coffins over to the island and cars heading for the penal colony in the evening carrying convicts’ relatives, police and religious counsellors.

President Joko Widodo believes Indonesia faces an emergency due to rising drugs consumption and has dramatically escalated the use of capital punishment, putting to death 14 drug convicts, mostly foreigners, since he took power in 2014.

Indonesia last carried out executions in April 2015 when it put to death eight drug convicts, including two Australians, sparking international outrage.

Family members say they have been told the convicts in the forthcoming round will be executed Thursday night, according to a lawyer and diplomat, a day earlier than had originally been expected. The government could not be reached for comment.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led international condemnation, urging Widodo to halt the imminent executions and declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Ban recalled that under international law, the death penalty should be used for the most serious crimes and said “drug crimes are generally not considered to meet this threshold”.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on Indonesia to end the “unjust” use of the death penalty and the European Union has also urged a halt.

But Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir defended the upcoming executions as “pure law enforcement”.

There have been concerns about legal irregularities in the cases of some facing imminent execution, with Amnesty International citing “systematic flaws” in several trials and noting a handful of clemency appeals were still pending.

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