Holy See grieves executions of three Indonesian men

.- The Vatican expressed great regret and sorrow over the executions of three Catholic Indonesian men last week. Fabianus Tibo, 60, Dominggus da Silva, 42, and Marinus Riwu, 48, were convicted of leading a violent attack on Muslims, which killed around 200 people in 2000, and then sentenced to death. They were executed firing squad on Thursday.

The Vatican’s Secretary of State, on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, had intervened on several occasions and asked for clemency for the three men.

The Holy See acknowledged that in addition to the Aug. 12 telegram, which was made public, two letters were sent directly to the Indonesian president, Dec. 5, 2004 and March 7, 2006. Two other interventions were directed to the Indonesian Embassy at the Holy See on Dec. 13, 2005 and Feb. 14, 2006.

Employing a humanitarian stance and inspired by the teachings of the Catholic Church on the death penalty, the Holy See sought to contribute to the process of reconciliation in Indonesia and to positive relations between the diverse religions, says a statement issued by the Vatican.

Thousands of Catholics attended funerals for the three men, who were buried Sunday.  Soldiers and police guarded churches and mosques in Poso and along roads leading to the remote area of Beteleme, where two of the three militants were buried, reported Antara, the state news agency.

Many still hold that the three were falsely convicted and were “scapegoats” for the deaths of Muslims in a series of attacks and reprisals between Catholic and Muslims in the country.  No Muslims have been sentenced to death for the attacks which left thousands of Catholics and hundreds of Muslims dead in 2000.

However, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda told The Associated Press that the executions “had nothing to do with the questions of tolerance between Islam and other religions."

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