Thursday, June 23, 2011

Indonesian President Cruels Chances of Clemency

THE prospects of Australian drug traffickers Schapelle Corby and Andrew Chan successfully appealing to Indonesia's President for clemency have been dealt a blow with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono saying he gets plenty of requests from foreigners but rejects ''almost'' all of them.

''I often receive requests from many countries, be they directly or indirectly [communicated], be they written or not written,'' Dr Yudhoyono said in a televised speech yesterday morning. ''My answer is that law is supreme above everything else. I turn down

almost all requests of pardon and acquittal from the death sentence. ''It is for the sake of justice. Our fellow countrymen get death sentence for heavy crimes. Why would we then grant a pardon for foreign nationals?''

Corby, serving a 20-year term for smuggling cannabis into Indonesia, lodged her clemency request almost a year ago. While a panel of Supreme Court judges, which first considered the request, recommended her sentence be cut to 10 years, it will be the Indonesian leader who makes the final decision.

Chan, an organiser of a heroin trafficking ring, had his death sentence confirmed last week. His legal team has foreshadowed an appeal to Dr Yudhoyono, Chan's last chance to avoid an appointment with a firing squad. Another Australian, Chan's fellow heroin trafficker Myuran Sukumaran, is waiting on the outcome of his final legal appeal against the death penalty. If it fails, he will also plead for a presidential pardon.

Dr Yudhoyono was speaking after an Indonesian maid, Ruyati binti Sapubi, 54, was executed at the weekend in Saudi Arabia, after being convicted of murdering her Saudi employer. Her beheading sparked outrage in Indonesia, prompting the recall of its ambassador, who was not informed that the execution was imminent. Indonesia has since announced it will ban all its migrant workers from going to Saudi Arabia from August.

There are an estimated 300 Indonesians on death row around the world.

The Indonesian Foreign Minister, Marty Natalegawa, has been agitating for clemency for all of them, and the Indonesian government has paid 2 million riyals ($503,000) in ''blood money'' to a Saudi family so they will agree to spare another Indonesian maid from execution. The maid, Darsem, said she killed her employer in self defence after he tried to rape her.

Dr Yudhoyono warned Indonesians to heed the law overseas. ''The same thing I ask to foreign nationals who live in Indonesia,'' he said. ''It is mandatory for them to also understand and obey by the system and legal practices applied in our country.''
There are more than 100 people on death row in Indonesia, but there have been no executions for 2½ years. by Tom Allard The Sydney Morning Herald

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