The world woke up this morning to the news that the eight of the ten persons detained in Indonesia over a decade ago for drug trafficking, including two members of the infamous “Bali 9” drug gang has finally been executed by firing squad. The condemned drug traffickers which included four Nigerians, were executed by the Indonesian government despite pleas from the International community, Human Rights Groups and especially, the Australian government for clemency.
Only two of them, Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino and Serge Atlaoui, a French national were given temporary reprieve for different reasons.
The prisoners which were to be executed include the following:
- Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise (Nigeria)
- Raheem Agbaje Salami (Nigeria)
- Martin Anderson (Nigeria)
- Okwuduli Oyatanze (Nigeria)
- Myuran Sukumaran (Australia)
- Andrew Chan (Australia)
- Zainal Abidin (Indonesia)
- Rodrigo Gularte (Brazil)
- Mary Jane Veloso (Philippines)
- Serge Atlaoui (France)
Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise (Death Penalty – Executed)
Nwolise, 47, was convicted in 2002 of smuggling just over a kilogram of heroin into Indonesia. He was sentenced to death.
His wife, who he met while in prison in 2007, and they were married shortly after, said he believed he was carrying tablets – which he swallowed – containing goat horn powder for some Nigerian friends in Pakistan. She also said he had no translator during his trial, and there are allegations that a bribe was sought to spare him a death sentence.
Raheem Agbaje Salami a.k.a Jamiu Owolabi Abashin (Death Penalty – Executed)
Abashin, 50, has said he was homeless in Bangkok when a new “friend” offered him $400 to take some clothes to Indonesia. He was arrested in Surabaya with 5.5kg (12lb) of heroin and originally sentenced, in 1999, to life in prison.
The sentence was changed to one of death in 2006. In an appeal for presidential clemency, Abashin admitted he had known he was carrying the drugs. His appeal was unsuccessful.
Martin Anderson (Death Penalty – Executed)
Anderson, 50, was sentenced to death in 2004 after being found guilty of possessing about 50g (1.8oz) of heroin. He traveled to Indonesia on a false passport and was thought to be Ghanaian, but is in fact – like three of his fellow prisoners – from Nigeria.
He was reportedly shot in the leg during his arrest. His lawyer told the media that he has been in poor spirits since being moved to Nusa Kambangan to face execution.
Okwuduli Oyatanze (Death Penalty – Executed)
Oyatanze, 41, was sentenced to death in 2002, found guilty of attempting to bring 2.5kg of heroin through Jakarta in capsules inside his stomach.
Charles Burrows, a Catholic priest who has counselled Oyatanze in prison, says that the Nigerian man, following the collapse of his clothing company, had thought being a drugs mule would be “easy money.”
Myuran Sukumaran (Death Penalty – Executed)
Arrested with Chan in 2005, Sukumaran, then 24, had also been living with his parents in Sydney, working in a mailroom. In his time in prison, he has become an accomplished artist, and his final painting – a heart dripping with blood, signed by all nine condemned prisoners – was removed from Nusa Kambangan by Indonesian officials on Tuesday.
Andrew Chan (Death Penalty – Executed)
Chan, 31, was arrested in Denpasar in April 2005, on a flight bound for Australia. A 22-year-old still living with his parents in western Sydney, he was carrying no drugs, but was found guilty, along with Myuran Sukumaran, of masterminding a drug smuggling ring and recruiting seven other Australians – the so-called Bali Nine. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad.
In his time on Indonesia’s death row, those who have been in contact with him say he is an utterly changed man. He has become a committed Christian and pastor, and spends much of his day in prayer or religious study, and counselling other prisoners.
On the eve of his execution Chan married his Indonesian girlfriend, Febyanti Herewila, in a ceremony on Nusa Kambangan, the prison island where he awaits the firing squad. His brother, Michael Chan, described leaving him after a final visit on Tuesday as “torture”.
Zainal Abidin (Death Penalty – Executed)
Abidin, 50, an Indonesian, was moved to Nusa Kambangan in preparation for execution despite still having an appeal due to be heard by the courts. He was convicted in 2001 of being the ringleader of a plan to sell marijuana, which he denies.
Two men convicted with Abidin, who he claims were the real masterminds of the ring, have served prison sentences and are now free.
Rodrigo Gularte (Death Penalty – Executed)
Rodrigo Gularte, was arrested at Jakarta airport in 2004 with 6kgs of cocaine secreted in a surfboard. Gularte, who is from a wealthy family in the state of Paraná, has twice been diagnosed with schizophrenia, is set to be the second Brazilian to be shot by firing squad in Indonesia this year.
The Brazilian foreign ministry has declared the death sentence “unacceptable” and “contrary to the common sense and basic standards of human rights protection” in a letter sent on Monday to the government in Jakarta.
Mary Jane Veloso (Death Penalty – Stayed Temporarily)
Veloso, 30, was arrested in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in 2010 and found to be carrying a suitcase packed with 2.2kg (5lb) of heroin. Painted in court as a knowing drugs courier, she was sentenced to death. But her supporters say that poverty had made her susceptible to people traffickers, who promised her a job as a maid in Malaysia but instead made her an unwitting drug mule.
On Tuesday the woman who recruited Veloso for that job, Maria Kristina Sergio, “voluntarily surrendered” to police in the Philippine province of Nueva Ecija. She was wanted on charges of illegal recruitment and human trafficking.
An intervention by the Philippine president, Benigno Aquino who pleaded that she should be spared to act as a witness against the woman expected to be charged with trafficking her, raised hopes that she might not be executed eventually. However, the attorney general said the execution would go ahead. She has two sons, aged twelve and six.
Serge Atlaoui (Death Penalty – Stayed Temporarily)
Atlaioui, from France, was due to be executed this week, but it has been delayed pending a legal challenge. He was arrested for working in a factory used to produce ecstasy. He claims he was working as a welder and was unaware of the illegal activity.
The men were put to death by firing squad at around 00.30 local time (3.30am AEST) after all pleas for clemency were rejected.
Sukumaran and Chan requested that their bodies be flown back to Australia. Nigerian Martin Anderson chose to be buried in the West Java town of Bekasi, and fellow Nigerian Raheem Agbaje, wanted to be buried in the East Java town of Madiun where he had been a prisoner. Indonesian Zainal Abidin is to be buried in Cilacap.Gularte, the Brazilian, insisted his body should be taken back to his native home in Brazil.
The wishes of two other Nigerians — Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise and Okwudili Oyatanze — have yet to be made public.
The Amnesty International strongly condemned the executions . Diana Sayed, Human Rights Lawyer and Crisis Campaigner, said “The death penalty is always a human rights violation, but there are a number of factors that make today’s executions even more distressing.” The Australian ambassador to Indonesia has been recalled after the two Australians were executed. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott stated the executions “cruel and unnecessary” and added both of them had been “fully rehabilitated” during detained period in prison.
May their souls rest in peace.