Frenchman on death row loses appeal

JAKARTA - A French drug convict in Indonesia has exhausted all legal options to avoid the firing squad after losing an appeal this week, Jakarta said yesterday.

A court on Monday dismissed a bid by Serge Atlaoui to challenge the president's rejection of his plea for clemency, typically a death row convict's final chance to avoid execution.

Atlaoui was due to be executed alongside eight other drug offenders two months ago, but won a temporary reprieve after Paris stepped up pressure, with the Indonesian authorities agreeing to let an outstanding appeal run its course.

Serge Atlaoui was initially sentenced to life in prison, but the Supreme Court increased the sentence to death on appeal.

Lawyers for the Frenchman, who was arrested in 2005 in a secret drugs factory outside Jakarta, have pledged to fight on and said they are exploring other legal routes.

However, Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said that Atlaoui's latest appeal was "the last legal avenue".

"As far as I know and as far as I understand, there are no more legal avenues that can be pursued on this case," he told reporters.

Atlaoui's lawyers could not be immediately contacted for comment.

Mr Nasir said the next step is up to the attorney-general's office, which is in charge of executions. The office has said that Atlaoui will not be put to death during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in Muslim-majority Indonesia, which ends in mid-July.

France has mounted a campaign to save Atlaoui and, following the court decision, President Francois Hollande said France was "doing everything" to keep him alive.

Since Monday's decision, the Indonesian government has yet to receive any communication from the French embassy in Jakarta on the matter, Mr Nasir said.

The authorities accuse Atlaoui, a welder, of being a "chemist" at the drugs factory. But he has maintained his innocence, claiming that he was installing machinery in what he thought was an acrylics plant. He was initially sentenced to life in prison, but the Supreme Court increased the sentence to death on appeal.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2015, with the headline 'Frenchman on death row loses appeal'. Print Edition | Subscribe