Rights groups call for leniency as Indonesia prepares for latest round of executions
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Rights groups call for leniency as Indonesia prepares for latest round of executions

HUMAN rights groups have called for clemency as Indonesia prepares for its latest round of executions.

Much of the focus this week has been on Pakistan national Zulfiqar Ali, 52, after he was transported to Nusakambangan prison island Monday, where the executions will take place.

Some reports suggest that Ali and a number of other prisoners could be put to death by firing squad as early as Saturday.

Rights groups have expressed concern that Ali was tortured into confessing to possession of heroin and did not receive a fair trial.

“During his trial he described this torture, but the judges allowed the ‘confession’ to be admitted as evidence. There has been no independent investigation into his allegations,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

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The father of six was arrested in late 2004 and charged with possession of 300 grams of heroin. He was sentenced to death the following year.

“He was tortured relentlessly and deprived of his most basic legal rights,” Maryam Haq, legal director at the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), told AFP, as reported by Coconuts Jakarta.

“Given that there is stronger evidence to support his innocence than guilt, it is now time for the President of Pakistan to appeal to our Muslim allies and save an innocent Pakistani’s life.”

Meanwhile, Merri Utami, an Indonesian woman on death row, was also transferred to Nusakambangan early on Sunday.

Utami was sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle more than a kilogram of heroin through Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport in 2003.

Nigerian nationals Eugene Ape, Michael Titus Igweh, Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke and Obinna Nwajagu are also expected to be executed in the coming days.

Some of the prisoners may be entitled to a stay of execution, as they have not yet submitted appeals for clemency.

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Pic: AP.

This will be the third round of executions under Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Last year, 14 prisoners were executed in two batches, most of them foreigners.

Despite international calls for a more lenient approach, Widodo stood by his country’s use of the death penalty for drug-related offences, calling drug trafficking a “national emergency” earlier this year.

“Implementation of the death penalty is carried out very cautiously,” he said.