Lawyers to take case of Catholics' executions to international court

.- Lawyers and priests from an Indonesian Church-based group say the recent executions of three Catholic men were illegal and unconstitutional, and they intend to bring the case before the International Criminal Court, reported UCA News.

"The executions of Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu, and Dominggus da Silva on Sept. 22 in Palu were a legal and human tragedy,” says a statement issued by the group Advocacy Service for Justice and Peace in Indonesia (Padma).

In their statement, the group claims the three men did not perpetrate the crime for which they were convicted. An Indonesian court fount the three men guilty of leading the Poso riots in May 2000, which killed 224 people, and burned about 5,000 buildings, including homes. The statement notes that there was no legal action resulting from the naming of 16 other people believed to be the masterminds of the 2000 Poso riots.

The statement was presented at a Sept. 29 press conference in Jakarta and was signed by four people, including Divine Word Father Nobert Bethan, director of Padma. Robert Tibo, whose father was executed, also attended the press conference.

According to Padma, which had provided legal and spiritual assistance for the three men, the current Indonesian government perpetrated crimes against humanity by carrying out the executions.

Beyond the facts of the case, the executions were illegal and unconstitutional because they occurred when the three men were exercising their constitutional right to a second appeal for clemency as guaranteed by the law, the statement says.

It also says the way in which the executions were carried out violated the 1964 presidential decree on the procedure for the death penalty.

For example, District Attorney Muhammad Basri Akib refused to officially give or even show Padma the warrant for the executions and refused all “last requests” of the three men.

The three men’s final requests included an open message to the Indonesian president through a press conference. They requested a public execution, carried out in the presence of the head of the National Ombudsman Commission, several priests, and their lawyer.

The three men also requested that their bodies be brought to St. Mary Church and for Bishop Joseph Suwatan of Manado to celebrate the requiem Mass. The three men had rejected the state’s post-execution arrangements.

"Refusing all their last wishes is against the 1964 presidential decree on the procedure of death penalty execution," the statement says.

Another violation occurred through the failure by authorities to give the bodies of the three men to their families after execution. Da Silva was buried without Catholic funeral rites in Palu public cemetery, and the bodies of Tibo and Riwu were sent to Beteleme village.

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