Saudi Arabia beheads Indonesian worker despite President Jokowi's pleas for clemency


Indonesian President Joko Widodo has requested for Indonesians on death row in Saudi Arabia be granted clemency on at least three occasions.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has requested for Indonesians on death row in Saudi Arabia be granted clemency on at least three occasions.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Saudi Arabia has beheaded an Indonesian migrant worker for murder despite President Joko Widodo's repeated pleas that the man be granted clemency.

M. Zaini Misrin from Bangkalan, East Java, was executed on Sunday (March 18), according to Migrant Care, an Indonesian organisation focusing on the welfare of Indonesian migrant workers.

Zaini, who worked as a driver, was sentenced to death on Nov 17, 2008, after being found guilty of murdering his employer, Abdullah bin Umar Munammad Al Sindy. He was arrested on July 13, 2004.

Migrant Care suspected that the 53-year-old Bangkalan resident had been forced to confess to the murder.

The group further claimed that Zaini did not receive legal assistance during his trial and was only accompanied by a translator believed to be complicit in forcing him to confess to the crime he claimed he did not commit.

"Saudi Arabia also did not notify Indonesia (about the execution) either through the consulate general in Jeddah or the Foreign Ministry," the group said in a statement released on Monday.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry confirmed the execution and Migrant Care's claim that it was not notified by Riyadh beforehand about Zaini's beheading.

The ministry said it was upset that Saudi Arabia has ignored its close ties with Indonesia by failing to give prior notification of the beheading.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s director of citizen protection, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, said the death sentence was also carried out while Zaini was still requesting the Saudi Appeal Court to undertake a case review.

“We understand that the Saudi government has no regulation obliging any notification of execution,” said Iqbal on Monday. “But considering our close ties both on the leaders’ and people levels, they should have given notice to our representatives.”

He said Indonesia was “shocked” to learn that the execution had been carried out when an appeal process had just started.

Jakarta on Monday sent an official protest note to Riyadh through the Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed al-Shuaibi. The note also questioned him about the issue.

The Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh was expected to deliver the same note again on Tuesday to the Saudi government, Iqbal added.

President Jokowi had requested that Zaini and other Indonesians on death row in Saudi Arabia be granted clemency on at least three occasions: During his visit to Riyadh in September 2015, during King Salman's visit to Jakarta in March 2017 and through a letter sent to the Islamic kingdom in November 2017.

The Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah had also requested that Zaini's case be reviewed and a re-investigation was conducted between 2011 and 2014, according to Migrant Care. The legal efforts, however, failed to overturn his conviction.