French drug convict won’t be executed in near future, Attorney General’s office says

A French drug convict who lost his last-ditch appeal to avoid execution will not face firing squad in the immediate future, the Indonesian Attorney General’s office said.

Jakarta’s State Administrative Court on Monday rejected Serge Atlaoui’s appeal challenging a decision by President Joko Widodo to deny his request for clemency. Atlaoui, who was sentenced to death in 2007 for working in an ecstasy factory, was due to be executed in April but a last-minute legal challenge prompted the Attorney General’s office to grant a stay of execution.

Attorney General’s office spokesman Tony Spontana said Atlaoui would be included in the next round of executions, the date of which has not been decided.

“The next round of executions will not be carried out in the near future, at least not in this holy month of Ramadan,” Tony said. A panel of three judges at the State Administrative Court said it did not have jurisdiction to examine the president’s decisions on clemency.

“Granting clemency is the president’s prerogative right and therefore the decision cannot be challenged at the State Administrative Court,” chief judge Ujang Abdullah said. Atlaoui, 51, said he was a welder who installed tanks, pumps, distillation equipment in what he descibed as an acrylic production plant.

He argued that the death sentence was too harsh for his actual role in the crime. Eight people convicted of drug trafficking were executed at the Nusakambangan penal island in April, including seven foreigners, despite international calls mercy. Among them were Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were the subject of repeated appeals for clemency from Australian leaders.

The other foreign convicts executed were four Nigerians and a Brazil national. Another drug convict facing execution, Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, received a stay of execution after a woman who was involved in hiring her turned herself in to authorities in the Philippines. Supporters hope that the woman’s case will show that Veloso was a victim of human trafficking.

The European Union and the United Nations urged Indonesia to declare an “immediate moratorium” on the use of the death penalty in the wake of the executions.

President Joko Widodo has vowed not to grant clemency to drug traffickers, saying that Indonesia is facing a drug emergency. He cited data from the National Narcotics Agency that suggest that about 50 people die every day because of drug abuse. However some experts have questioned the validity of the statistics and raised concerns about the use of questionable methods in data collection.

In an open letter published in leading health journal The Lancet, a group of Indonesian experts urged Jokowi to end the use of the death penalty for drug trafficking. A researcher at Atmajaya University’s HIV and AIDS Research Center, Irwanto, said he the group was concerned that the government had used the estimates as the basis for its drug policy without providing sufficient opportunity for independent peer review.

“Obtaining valid estimates of drug use is not an easy, direct process and we need to make sure that national policies are based on evidence that is thoroughly peer-reviewed and transparent,” Irwanto was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post earlier this month. “Each human life matters. Productive human lives may be compromised by misguided policies,” he said.

The story has been updated with comments from the Attorney General’s office

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