Frustrated by rampant drug trade in prisons, Indonesia’s anti-drugs chief has suggested that jails be guarded by ghosts because they cannot be bribed, reports said Wednesday. Continue reading “Indonesia’s anti-drug chief wants ghosts as prison guards”
A Philippine official said Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte did not give the green light for Indonesia to go ahead with the execution of a Philippine woman currently on death row for drug trafficking.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay clarified in a statement that Duterte never gave his Indonesian counterpart the green light to the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, contradicting reported comments from the Indonesian president earlier that day.
“[Duterte] told the Indonesian president that he respects their judicial processes and will accept whatever the final decision they will arrive at regarding her case,” Yasay said.
The clarification came after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said that Duterte had told him to proceed with the execution of Mary Jane, according to a statement on the cabinet secretary’s website.
Jokowi said he had discussed the suspended execution of Mary Jane with Duterte during their meeting at the presidential palace when the Philippine president was on his first-ever state visit to a foreign country since he took office on June 30.
“President Duterte said at the time to go ahead with the execution,” Jokowi said, without providing further details.
Emmanuel Pinol, Philippine Agriculture Secretary who was at the meeting, said Duterte never told Jokowi that it was okay to execute Mary Jane, according to Manila Bulletin.
“The president never agreed to execute Mary Jane,” he said.
“What he said was that we respect your law, we will not interfere with your judicial process but we will ask for clemency,” Pinol added.
He also said there was an understanding that Mary Jane’s execution had been postponed indefinitely.
Jokowi said that he told Duterte that Mary Jane had been caught carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin when she was arrested at Yogyakarta’s airport in April 2010, before being sentenced to death in October the same year.
Mary Jane was granted an 11th-hour reprieve on April 29 last year when Philippine authorities requested her testimony in an ongoing legal case in the Philippines after her alleged recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio and her partners were arrested.
Duterte made no reference to Mary Jane’s case in a joint press statement after their meeting, even though he had said before his visit to Indonesia that he would ask Jokowi to grant Mary Jane leniency.
However, he said that Indonesia and the Philippines w seeking ways to intensify cooperation against illegal drugs as part of their efforts for a drug-free Asean.
“We share the deep concern over the trade in illicit and illegal drugs and its impact on our societies,” Duterte said.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said Monday that his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte has given the green light for Indonesia to execute a Philippine woman currently on death row for drug trafficking.
In a statement posted on the cabinet secretary’s website, Jokowi said he had discussed the suspended execution of Mary Jane Veloso with Duterte during his visit to Indonesia on Friday, but declined to provide further details.
“President Duterte said at the time to go ahead with the execution,” Jokowi said after conducting Eid prayers in Serang, Banten province.
He said he told Duterte that Mary Jane had been caught carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin when she was arrested at Yogyakarta’s airport in April 2010, before being sentenced to death in October the same year.
Before his visit to Indonesia, Duterte said he would ask Jokowi to grant Mary Jane leniency, however he made no reference to the case in a joint press statement after their meeting.
Mary Jane was granted a last-minute stay of execution on April 29 last year when Philippine authorities requested her testimony in an ongoing legal case in her home country after her alleged recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio and her partners were arrested.
Both Jokowi and Duterte are currently waging a war on drugs in their respective countries.
Since he took office in 2014, Jokowi’s administration has executed 18 people convicted for drug trafficking, most of whom were foreigners.
In the Philippines, 1,011 suspected drug users and dealers have been killed in police operations between July 1 and September 4, according to police statistics.
Police also recorded 1,391 deaths during the same period which are still being investigated.
Human rights activists and Indonesian representative in the Coalition for the Abolition of Death Penalty in Asean (CAPDA) urged both presidents to review the deadly measures they take on the war against drugs.
The coalition also said it rejected the judicial and extrajudicial killings in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Daniel Awigra, the Asean program manager at the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) said both countries have set a bad example for the protection of human rights in the region.
They could also stall further promotion of human rights in Southeast Asia, where a number of Asean member states still have poor human rights records, he added.
“Indonesia and the Philippines had been the driving force for human rights promotion in Asean but these two champions have become bad examples for other countries in the region,” Daniel said.
He also said that Jokowi and Duterte could be leaving a poor moral legacy despite becoming more popular by taking these measures.
“After all, Indonesia and the Philippines are the big brothers in Asean and Indonesia has a leadership role in the bloc,” Daniel said.
By Haris Azhar*
As Indonesia was preparing the third set of executions under President Joko Widodo, I recalled a 2014 encounter with Freddy Budiman on Nusa Kambangan, which led me to believe that the executions have not been carried out to uphold justice but merely to boost popularity.
Freddy’s drug smuggling case showed just how flawed the legal system is, for reasons which I describe as follows.
During the 2014 presidential election campaign, I received an invitation from a church organization that is active in providing spiritual assistance to inmates in the Nusa Kambangan prison complex.
I had a chance to meet with a number of death-row inmates who were convicted of terrorism and those who were believed to be victims of miscarriages of justice.
I met among others, John Refra, also known as John Kei, and drug convicts on death row Freddy Budiman and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, who was executed in April 2015.
I thank Mr. Sitinjak, the prison chief warden at that time, for giving me an opportunity to talk to him and exchange ideas about his work. I think Mr. Sitinjak was very strict and disciplined in managing the prison.
Almost every day, Mr. Sitinjak ordered his staffers to confiscate cellular phones and weapons that were in the inmates’ possession. I witnessed prison guards seizing many cell phones and sharp weapons.
But instead of being appreciated for his hard work to build the integrity of the prison, including installing two security cameras to monitor Freddy around the clock, Mr. Sitinjak admitted to me that officials from the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), who often visited the prison, had asked him to remove the cameras.
I thought this was odd and I asked him why BNN would object to the cameras. Didn’t Freddy’s status as a drug lord require close monitoring? I then had my question answered by Freddy himself who told me his story.
According to the church member who took me to the prison, Freddy was eager to meet and talk directly with me. I, accompanied by two servants of the church and John Kei, chatted with Freddy for two hours.
This is what he told me.
“Mr. Haris, I’m not a person who is afraid to die. I am ready to be executed because of my crime, I know the risk of the crime I have committed. But I am also disappointed with the officials and law enforcers.”
“I am not a dealer. I am the operator of a large-scale drug smuggling network. I have a boss who is not from Indonesia. He is in China. When I want to smuggle drugs, I would arrange it, I called the police, BNN, Customs officials and those people who I called, would chip in and named their prices. Can you guess the actual price of the drugs I sell in Jakarta for around Rp200.000 – 300.000 in the market?” Freddy asked me.
I answered Rp50.000. Freddy immediately replied:
“Wrong. It costs only Rp5.000 straight out of the factory in China, so I was never afraid if some people quoted their prices to me. When I phoned a particular person, that person would chip in Rp10.000 per pill, another would offer Rp30.000 and I never refused. Do you know why Mr. Haris?”
“Because I could sell Rp200.000 per item, so if you simply give from the proceeds around Rp10.000 – 30.000 to each of people of certain institutions, it was no big deal. I only need Rp10 billion and the goods will arrive. From the sale profits, I could share tens of billions with some officials in certain institutions.”
Freddy said police often sold confiscated drugs themselves. “When I smuggled the stuff, I was arrested. My goods were confiscated. But from my informants, the confiscated goods were sold.
“So my boss (in China) asked: ‘You said that you already greased the palms of the police, how come you got arrested? And if you are captured, why are the goods available in the circulation. Who is playing the game? You or the police?’”
Freddy went on: “I know because every drug plant has its own characteristics such as a unique shape, color and taste. So if my goods are being sold, I know. And my networks discovered that.”
Freddy continued again. “And why have I been singled out? Where are those people? I calculated that over several years of smuggling drugs, I had given Rp450 billion to BNN and Rp90 billion to certain officials at the national police headquarters. I even drove the official car of a two-star army general, with the general sitting next to me from Medan to Jakarta with the car fully loaded with drugs. My trip was smooth and safe without any trouble.”
“I am concerned with such officials. When I was arrested, I was asked to confess and tell all about where and who the dealer was. I said, my investor was the son of a high-ranking official in Korea (Not sure if Freddy meant North or South Korea – Haris). I was ready to show where the factory was, and I went there with BNN officers (not sure if it was one or more officials – Haris). We went to China and we got to the front of the factory. Then I asked the BNN people: Now what?”
“In the end, they didn’t know [what to do], so we returned. I have always been cooperative with law enforcement officials. If [they] want to uncover, just do it. But they misused my being cooperative.”
“When they said I escaped, actually I did not escape. When I was in custody, I was approached by the police who offered me to escape. But I did not want to run away because I still could control my business from inside the prison. But I knew the police needed money, so I accepted the offer. But I told him I had no money. Then the police looked for about Rp1 billion loan out of the agreed price of Rp2 billion. Then I escaped. When I was already on the run, I paid the other one billion. But a few days later I was arrested again. I understand that I was arrested again because from the beginning I knew he was just going to blackmail me.”
Freddy also expressed that he was sorry for the ordinary people such as the drivers of trucks in which the drugs were loaded and could not accept the fact that they were the ones who are punished, instead of the high-profile actors who enjoyed protection.
I then asked Freddy where I could get [more of] this story? Why not just publicise this story? Freddy replied:
“I had already told my lawyer, if I want to publicise this, to whom? That is why it is important to you, Mr. Haris. So you can tell the story to the wider public, that I am ready to be executed, but I am concerned with the current state of law enforcement. Why don’t you read my plea, Mr. Haris, the story I am telling you now is all in the plea.”
So I looked for Freddy’s written plea. I could not find it on the Supreme Court website. I could only find the verdict on the website. The verdict however does not provide any information of what Freddy had told me about allegations of state, law enforcement officials involvement in the case.
We at KontraS then tried to look for Freddy’s lawyer’s contact, but interestingly, despite the abundance and wealth of information on the internet, we could not find any information that mentioned who Freddy’s lawyer was and his whereabouts. Eventually we failed to meet the lawyer through whom we hope to dig this information deeper, whether such information was included in Freddy’s dossier and ask further information about the progress of the case.
Note: Haris’ testimony made rounds on social media and messaging apps just before midnight on July 28, 2016. Freddy was executed shortly after midnight on July 29, 2016 along with Seck Osmane from Senegal and Michael Titus and Humphrey Jefferson Ejike from Nigeria.
Haris Azhar is the coordinator of The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras)
The Jakarta Post newspaper apologised on Friday after it ran a front-page story erroneously declaring that 14 drug convicts had been executed. Continue reading “The Jakarta Post sorry for jumping the gun over execution story”
Indonesia executed four convicted drug traffickers on Friday, a top prosecutor said, in the third such group execution since President Joko Widodo took office in October 2014. Continue reading “Indonesia executes four convicted drug traffickers”
Families were granted last visits on Thursday as executions loomed for 14 people on death row for drug trafficking in Indonesia, a lawyer said. Continue reading “Families granted last visits as executions loom”