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Execution Indonesia Christians “Imminent”

BosNewsLife (03/06/06)

Three Christians convicted of murder “on very shaky evidence” are to be executed “imminently” despite international protests, sources close to the case said Monday March 6.

The police chief of Palu in the province of Central Sulawesi reportedly announced over the weekend that the execution of Christians Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus Dasilva and Marinus Riwu will be carried out this month.

“Since the police are only obliged to give the accused 72 hours advance notice, the situation is dire,” said Jubilee Campaign USA , a leading advocacy group that is in close contact with those involved in the trial.

The US-based group told BosNewsLife it had urged it supporters to “pray that the execution would be halted and that the Indonesian courts would reopen the case to consider plausible evidence of the three men’s innocence that was suppressed during their original trial.”

SERIOUS CLASHES

Tibo, Dasilva and Riwu were arrested last year in connection with murders that took place during clashes between Christians and Muslims in the area of Poso in May 2000. However “during the trial, the court refused to hear exculpatory testimony from thirteen different eyewitnesses who claimed that the three men were not involved in the killings,” the group said in a statement.

It claimed that in a report released after the men were sentenced, Irwanto Hasan, who was a member of the Poso Police Intelligence Division in May 2000, declared “not only that the defendants were innocent of murder but that Tibo had actually saved him from being killed by a militant Christian group.”

Besides Jubilee Campaign USA, a number of Indonesian human rights groups took up the cause of the three men. In addition members of the US Congress wrote to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, appealing for clemency. Christians around the world reportedly also responded to a December appeal by writing letters to President Susilo.

The group admitted that Indonesian officials have raised doubts about the innocence of the Christians.

OFFICIALS DISAGREE

“Unfortunately, many members of the Indonesian Parliament, including some Christian Members, have publicly stated that they believe Tibo, Dasilva and Riwu to be guilty. Based on the information we have received, we disagree. At the very least, there were enough irregularities about the trial, including the suppressed testimony mentioned above, to warrant delaying the execution long enough to conduct a complete reappraisal of the evidence,” Jubilee Campaign USA said.

“To do less would be a gross miscarriage of justice, especially considering that several recent attacks on Christians have gone unpunished.” In one of the latest incidents last week, one man was reportedly arrested in connection with the beheading of three Christian girls in Central Sulawesi last October.

But in a number of other attacks, “including the shooting of two teenage girls and the bombing of a Christian market in Palu on New Year’s Eve that left eight people dead and more than fifty injured, no one has been brought to justice,” added Jubilee Campaign USA.

“To proceed with the execution of the three Christian men under these circumstances would be demoralizing to the Christian community in Central Sulawesi. We join the persecuted Christian minority of Indonesia in crying out for true justice.”

“NOT EFFECTIVE”

While the group said it would continue, “to pursue all the legal and political avenues” at its disposal “to stop the execution and reopen the case of the three condemned men,” it recognizes “that purely human solutions will not ultimately be effective.”

It said it was urging supporters “to call on God to bring an end to the unjust treatment of Christians in Indonesia.

We pray for the lives of Tibo, Dasilva, Riwu and all others who have been caught in the grinding gears of what passes for the criminal justice system in Indonesia.” (With BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife Research and reports from Indonesia).