‘Kill me 10 times if found guilty’

| Pakistani facing fire squads in Indonesia seeks govt help

A Pakistani national, facing imminent execution in Indonesia over drug smuggling charges, has sought help  from the government, a private TV channel reported yesterday.

“Kill me 10 times if I’m found guilty. I’m ready for it. But if I’m innocent then please spare my life,” Zulfiqar said.

“We leave our country only to make lives of our family better. We don’t go to other countries to get involved in criminal activities,” said the sole breadwinner of his family in Gujranwala.

The only brother of six sisters urged the Pakistan government to take up his case with the Indonesian authorities. Zulfiqar believed that his execution could still be put on hold if both the governments take up the matter on embassy level.

 “Please save my brother,” his sister said. “He means a lot to us. I don’t know what authorities to ask to, I can only request to please save my brother. He is the only person to look after us.”

“I talked to him over the phone. He says he is innocent, he hasn’t done anything. He has been framed for a crime he never committed,” she said.

“Zulfiqar told me that the Indonesian authorities just don’t listen to anything he says. They say they are going to execute him. I’m appealing to the Government of Pakistan to do something. We don’t have time … I can only pray to God that they be merciful towards my brother.”

Indonesian authorities notified his family in Gujranwala that Zulfiqar would soon face a firing squad, after he was transferred to Nusakambangan prison island, where executions take place.

The 52-year-old has been languishing in Indonesian jail for 12 years. He was arrested in November 2004 in connection with a 300-gram heroine case in Jakarta. A co-accused in the case, Gurdip Singh, retracted his statement against Zulfiqar, saying the confession had been coerced from him.

Reportedly, Pakistan government intensified its diplomatic efforts for saving him. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, who is in Laos for an Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum moot, sought a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi on the issue. Indonesian Ambassador Iwan Suyudhie Amri was also summoned to the Foreign Office over the expected execution.

UN ALARMED: The United Nations expressed alarm Wednesday at the looming execution of 14 drug convicts in Indonesia, urging Jakarta to put an end to the “unjust” practice of capital punishment, reported a foreign news agency.

Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo said that 14 people - including prisoners from Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe - had been put in isolation and would be executed this week.

Rights groups and governments have been voicing concern in recent days, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed alarm at the planned executions.

“The increasing use of the death penalty in Indonesia is terribly worrying, and I urge the government to immediately end this practice which is unjust and incompatible with human rights,” he said in a statement.

“The death penalty is not an effective deterrent relative to other forms of punishment nor does it protect people from drug abuse.”

He said that under international law, in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, it may only be used for “the most serious crimes” - which has been interpreted to mean only crimes involving intentional killing.

Family members and embassy officials visited the condemned prisoners Wednesday on Nusakambangan island, home to a high-security prison where Indonesia conducts executions.

Indonesia - which has some of the world’s toughest anti-drugs laws - executed 14 drug convicts, mostly foreigners, in two batches last year.

Activists intensified pressure on President Joko Widodo this week, with Amnesty International saying the executions would put his government “on the wrong side of history”.

Indonesia last carried out executions in April 2015 when it put to death eight convicts, including two Australians and a Brazilian, sparking international outrage.

Lawyers for some of the condemned inmates have been making last-minute bids to save their clients from the firing squad.

A letter from Indonesian convict Merri Utami to Widodo asking for clemency was sent on Tuesday. Activists lobbying on behalf of Pakistani prisoner Zulfiqar Ali said they would also consider making a final appeal for clemency, despite alleging their 52-year-old client was tortured into confessing and should not have been convicted.

“We’ve seen how Indonesia’s legal system is full of flaws. (Widodo) can actually put a moratorium on executions, he has the right to do so,” said Al Araf, the director of Indonesian rights group Imparsial.


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