Philippine drug convict Mary Jane Veloso gets another reprieve as Indonesia delays executions

Filipino drug mule Mary Jane Veloso (center) has gotten a new reprieve in her execution.
Filipino drug mule Mary Jane Veloso (center) has gotten a new reprieve in her execution.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Filipino drug mule Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso who was sentenced to die in Indonesia may have gotten a new unexpected reprieve in her execution.

Veloso was supposed to have been executed on April 26, 2015, but was temporarily spared after a woman who allegedly recruited her to act as a drug courier gave herself up to the police in the Philippines.

Indonesia's Attorney-General's Office (AGO) said it would include Veloso in the next round of executions after the legal process in her own country was finished.

However, the upcoming executions will be delayed due to weakness in the Indonesia economy, according to Attorney-General M. Prasetyo.

Mr Prasetyo announced recently that the AGO would not carry out a third round of executions of inmates until the country got out of the current economic slowdown.

Mr Prasetyo said that another round of executions could trigger an international outcry that could derail President Joko Widodo's campaign to fix the economy.

"The Attorney-General's Office is currently helping the government in prioritising the economy," Mr Prasetyo told The Jakarta Post on Thursday (Nov 19).

This year, the AGO conducted two rounds of executions, the first involving six convicts in January and the second another eight in April.

The executions sparked condemnations from domestic and international human rights campaigners, as well as risked Indonesia's diplomatic relationships with the respective countries of origin of the foreign inmates.

Earlier in September, the AGO sent a budget proposal for the execution of 14 foreign and domestic drug convicts to the House of Representatives Commission III overseeing legal affairs, but the plan was put on hold after the country entered a period of economic slowdown.

Mr Prasetyo said the third round of executions would likely be conducted next year, but he did not give details regarding the plan.

The Attorney-General said the AGO was working to help the economic recovery, including by setting up a team that would help local government officials make budget decisions.

"Some of them are reluctant to make decisions (on budgets) because they are afraid of being prosecuted by law enforcers," he said.

Separately, human rights watchdog Setara Institute chair Hendardi called Mr Prasetyo's argument for the delay "insensitive".

"The decision to delay the executions is not something to brag about, especially because it was not made based on humanitarian reasons. From his argument we can see that he does not know what law enforcement is," Mr Hendardi told the Post on Thursday.

Mr Hendardi called on Mr Joko to meet international demands by abolishing capital punishment in the country.

"Any delay in the executions is not a solution. The government must issue a moratorium on the death penalty. After the moratorium, it should move further to completely abolish the inhumane practice," Mr Hendardi said.

In addition to the executions in April, eight drug convicts were executed on the Nusakambangan prison island near Cilacap in Central Java.

They were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Ghanaian Martin Anderson and Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami and Okwudili Oyatanze.

The AGO has yet to release the names of the 14 drug convicts that it wants to put to death in the next round of executions.