Indonesia on Friday executed four drug convicts, three of them foreigners, by firing squad, an official said, pushing on with a campaign of capital punishment that has sparked a storm of global anger.
However 10 others expected to have faced the firing squad, including nationals from Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe as well as Indonesians, were not put to death.
Officials did not give a reason for the reprieve, but the prison island where they were expected to be executed was hit by a major storm as the other sentences were carried out.
“This was done not in order to take lives but to stop evil intentions, and the evil act of drug trafficking,” Noor Rachmad, deputy attorney general for general crimes, told reporters.
The executions came after days of protests with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the European Union voicing opposition to the plan.
It was the first round of executions in Indonesia since April last year when authorities put to death eight drug convicts, including two Australians, which sparked international outrage.
Friday’s executions came after a day of frenetic activity, with distraught relatives travelling to Nusakambangan island to say farewells to their loved ones and ambulances carrying coffins over to the heavily guarded penal colony.
The executed Indonesian was named as Freddy Budiman, while the three others, Nigerians, were: Seck Osmane, Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke and Michael Titus Igweh.
Two people whose cases had raised high-profile international concern among rights groups were not executed.
The first was Pakistani Zulfiqar Ali, whom rights groups say was beaten into confessing to the crime of heroin possession, leading to his 2005 death sentence.
The other was Indonesian woman Merri Utami, who was caught with heroin in her bag as she came through Jakarta airport and claims she was duped into becoming a drug mule.
It was the third batch of executions under President Joko Widodo, and means 18 drug convicts – mostly foreigners – have been put to death since he became leader in 2014.
Widodo has defended dramatically ramping up the use of capital punishment, saying that Indonesia is fighting a war on drugs and traffickers must be heavily punished.
But his execution drive has shocked the international community and disappointed activists, particularly as hopes were high that Widodo, seen as a fresh face in a political world dominated by figures from Indonesia’s authoritarian past, would improve the country’s rights record. -AFP