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ICC Note:

No one else has even been tried for the crime three Catholics are facing the death penalty for, raising serious questions about what happened. Does Indonesia want to make these men martyrs for someone else’s crime?

AsiaNews (05/10/06) – The countdown for three Catholics sentenced to death has started three days before the probable date of execution. Starting today Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwa and Dominggus da Silva are in isolation under special custody in the Palu prison ( Central Sulawesi ) in compliance with existing death penalty rules.

In the afternoon a panel of five Supreme Court judges had unanimously rejected the second appeal presented by the lawyers of the three accused men. In mid-April the Supreme Court had accepted to listen to new plea and ordered the authorities not to carry out the execution until after the review was completed. Justice Djoko Sarwoko, who read the verdict on the panel’s behalf, explained that “there were no more legal venues available to the [the three prisoners’] defence team”.

Fr Jimmy Tumbelaka, a parish priest in Poso, was the one to break the news to the three men. Ma’as Damsik, an official with the Central Sulawesi Human Rights and Law Department Office, visited Tibo and his companions in the Petobo State Prison. “After the Supreme Court’s final verdict, the three have been placed in isolation waiting to be executed,” he said. Under Indonesia ’s rules, once in isolation a prisoner cannot received any visits.

Relatives of the three condemned men have expressed their grief over the final decision. Tibo’s son Robert said that “injustice is all over the place.” Other family members are arriving from Palu; the three men are from predominantly Catholic Flores Island .

Before leaving Tibo’s relatives were blessed by Mgr Vincentius Sensi Potokota, bishop of Maumere, Flores. “I am with you who are fighting incessantly for justice with all my strength,” the prelate said.

Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwa and Dominggus da Silva were sentenced for their involvement in the 2000 massacre of 200 Muslims in Poso Regency, during a period of violent sectarian clashes that lasted from 1998 and 2001.

The three men are so far the only people to have been tried for a violent conflict that has not yet been fully elucidated, that perhaps someone does not want to see fully explained.