Fresh legal bids for Filipina, Bali 9 on death row
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Lawyers for the Philippine and Australian citizens on death row in Indonesia are launching fresh new bids to save them from the firing squad, despite the country's attorney-general declaring they've already exhausted all legal options.
Sisca, one of the Indonesian lawyers representing 30-year-old Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, told Rappler on Thursday, April 9, they would file a second case review request as soon as they receive the official Supreme Court decision rejecting the first one.
Veloso was arrested in April 2010 at the airport in Yogyakarta with 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her suitcase, but she maintains she was tricked by a drug syndicate and did not know about the illegal drugs. (READ: The fate of Mary Jane Veloso)
After President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo rejected her clemency request in January, lawyers quickly filed a case review request, arguing the mother of two wasn't given a capable translator during her first trial. However, that was rejected in late March.
"We're preparing new evidence in close coordination with the Philippine embassy," Sisca said, explaining that this time they will prove that Veloso's rights were violated when she was questioned by police without proper legal representation.
"We can also see that the judges' decision was too extreme. First, they said Mary Jane was the intermediary in the transaction. But if she was an intermediary, then she should know who the goods came from, who they were going to, and the value of the goods. This cannot be proven. In fact, she was only told to bring the bag and did not know there were drugs inside." (READ: Fearing for their lives, Velosos seek gov't protection)
But the judges decided that Veloso was a drug kingpin without evidence, according to the lawyers, adding that the judges also did not consider her age and the fact that she had children as mitigating circumstances in sentencing her.
Prosecutors during the first trial didn't seek the death penalty for Veloso, but the judges, arguing that drugs destroy the nation, handed down the maximum penalty allowed by law.
"They should decide on a case by case basis," the lead lawyer, Agus Salim, said.
To the Constitutional Court
Meanwhile, lawyers for the Australian pair, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, filed a judicial review request with Indonesia's Constitutional Court on Thursday, just days after a separate court dismissed an earlier challenge.
The ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" drug trafficking gang were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia and face imminent execution.
Inneke Kusuma, a lawyer for the Australian pair, said this latest appeal challenges a ruling that prevents foreigners having their cases reviewed in the Constitutional Court.
It also calls for Jokowi to give a clear reason why he rejected Chan and Sukumaran's appeals for clemency, she added.
She said the legal team hoped the government would wait until the court proceedings were complete, a process that could take "several months".
"I think with our effort we can show them, tell them, persuade them," she told reporters at the court.
"If the Constitutional Court accepts what we have lodged, maybe there will be a new mechanism for considering clemency."
'Playing with justice'
But Indonesia's Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo earlier this week said nothing would delay the executions, accusing the Australians' legal team of "playing with justice".
"The legal process is already done," he said.
"This proves that they are simply trying to buy time."
The Australians' legal team has mounted several attempts to halt the executions.
On Monday the State Administrative Court in Jakarta upheld a decision that it does not have the authority to hear a challenge to Widodo's rejection of the Australians' pleas for clemency, which is typically the final chance to avoid execution.
They are expected to be executed soon along with other drug convicts, including foreigners from France, Brazil, Nigeria and Ghana.
Jakarta has said it will wait for all legal appeals to be resolved before putting the group to death at the same time. Some other convicts have lodged Supreme Court appeals, which could take weeks to resolve. – Reports from Adelia Putri and Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com