Four people convicted of drug smuggling were executed in Indonesia overnight, marking the first round of executions to happen in Indonesia since two Australians were killed by firing squad last year.
The executions took place at midnight (local time) and the four deaths were confirmed to have happened during heavy rain and thunderstorms, according to the ABC.
One local Indonesian man and three Nigerian drug convicts were executed by firing squad at Nusakambangan prison in Indonesia, but 10 people’s lives were spared for now. The reason for the delay of their executions is not yet known, but lawyers for some of the people spared from last nights executions told the ABC their clients may seek last-minute clemency from President Joko Widodo, meaning their executions could be delayed.
Deputy Attorney-General for General Crimes, Noor Rachmad, made the announcement and reiterated that Indonesia does not want to kill people, it just wants to stop the drug trafficking, and this is the only way to do it.
“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.”
Noor Rachmad said the 10 remaining criminals have not been spared execution, their deaths have just been delayed for now and that “the rest [of the executions] will be carried out in stages.”
The 10 people still set to face the firing squad are also drug convicts and are set to be executed at a date yet to be decided. Amnesty International has condemned the four executions and is scrambling to stop the remaining 10, saying the deaths are “a deplorable act.”
Rafendi Djamin fights for justice with Amnesty International and has spoken out about the four deaths overnight.
“Any executions that are still to take place must be halted immediately. The injustice already done cannot be reversed, but there is still hope that it won’t be compounded.”
Relatives of the four drug traffickers killed, and those 10 whose lives were spared for now, traveled to Nusakambangan Island the day before the executions to say their goodbyes and were visibly distraught when ambulances carrying coffins arrived in anticipation of transporting the dead.
Diplomats, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, and human rights groups called on Indonesia to halt the planned executions when the 72 hour notice was given, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Australia has held a firm stance against the death penalty in Indonesia since the executions of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran last year.
In a statement, Amnesty International urged “the country’s authorities to halt all executions and to take immediate steps to ensure that the cases of all those under sentence of death are reviewed by an independent and impartial body.”
Indonesia Attorney General’s office oversees executions, and spokesman Mohammad Rum warned of the executions, saying, “The time is approaching.”
The four executed people have now been named. The Indonesian has been named as Freddy Budiman, and the three Nigerians named are Seck Osmane, Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke, and Michael Titus Igweh.
The Indonesian prison gave the criminals just 72 hours notice of their impending executions. The 14 people given notice of execution are Nigerian, Pakistani, Indonesian, and Indian nationals. Thirteen men and one woman were on the original list and were placed into isolation, which is a usual step before execution.
The Nigerian criminals sentenced to death were in such a state that a catholic priest, who wished to remain anonymous, went to the prison the evening of the deaths “to help calm them down.”
Indonesia is known to have some of the toughest anti-drug laws in the world and executed 14 drug convicts, mostly foreigners, in two batches last year. There have been claims by a number of prisoners that they received unfair trials and were tortured to confess.
[Photo by Anadolu Agency/Getty Images]