Defying international pressure, Indonesia executes eight drug convicts

Jakarta – Eight people convicted of drug trafficking were executed in Indonesia today, despite appeals for  mercy both at home and abroad.

A ninth convict, a Philippine mother of two named Mary Jane Veloso, won a stay of execution at last minute after her alleged recruiter turned herself in to authorities in her home country.

The eight other convicts were shot by firing squad just after midnight, local media said.

All but one of the convicts were foreigners, including two Australians whose executions plans sparked a diplomatic row between Indonesia and Australia. The other inmates were four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian.

Amnesty International said the executions were “utterly reprehensible” and urged Indonesia to scrap any plans to carry out further executions.

Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo said Veloso, who was convicted of smuggling 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia in 2010, won a stay of execution pending the legal process in the Philippines.

She claimed that she was a victim of drug trafficking and was deceived into smuggling the drugs by her recruiter.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has been under international pressure to grant clemency to the convicts, but he remained adamant, saying the executions were a necessary response to  a “drug emergency” in the country.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged Indonesia to consider a moratorium on the death penalty and said drug-related offences generally are not considered “most serious crimes.”

The European Union also said the death penalty is not a solution to Indonesia’s drug problem.

French national Serge Atlaoui has earlier won a temporary reprieve pending a last-ditch legal challenge. 

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