Drug convict restless as
execution nears

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan

Convicted Indian drug trafficker Ayodhya Prasadh Chaubey, 66, is not getting much sleep these days as he waits for his imminent death.

He knows he is soon to die before a police firing squad after a last-ditch effort to evade execution was turned down by the Supreme Court and his request for clemency repudiated.

Chaubey's lawyer Yopi Mariadi said on Friday his client was extremely distressed upon hearing from the media that the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal for a judicial review of his death sentence.

Yopi said he had visited Chaubey several times at Tanjung Gusta prison in Medan, North Sumatra, to give him moral support after the bad news.

""The convict is so confused and has sleepless nights. But he continues to pray five times a day and surrenders himself to God Almighty,"" the lawyer said.

Chaubey was caught in 1994 in Medan when he was trying to smuggle 12 kilograms of heroin into the country. The Medan District Court sentenced him to death in 1995.

His appeal was later rejected by both the Medan High Court and the Supreme Court.

But Yopi said that what Chaubey could not accept was the fact that the evidence, or the 12 kilograms of heroin was never presented in the trials, though the courts convicted him of drug trafficking.

""That's why we submitted a plea twice for judicial review of the conviction,"" the lawyer added.

He said his client was ready to be executed if the authorities presented the evidence in court.

Separately on Friday, Supreme Court officials presented a copy of the verdict, which rejected Chaubey's second request for judicial review, to the Medan court.

This was witnessed by Medan Prosecutor's Office head Farid Harianto, who said he would coordinate with police soon to arrange Chaubey's execution.

There is no need to wait for a presidential decision to determine the date of the execution, he added.

The execution will be conducted by a police firing squad at the request of the prosecution and will be closed to the public. The date of the execution will not be announced. The prosecution will only inform the convict and his family one day before the decided date.

North Sumatra Police narcotics division head Adj. Sr. Comr. Nixon Manurung said on Friday a 10-member firing squad from the police Mobile Brigade was on standby to execute Chaubey.

Only two of the guns will fire live rounds, while the remainder will fire blanks, he said.

But none of the police officers will know whether their weapon will carry live rounds or blanks during the execution, Nixon added.

He said each member of the squad will target either Chaubey's heart or head.

Indonesia last executed a convict in 1994, when a Malaysian drug trafficker, Chan Ting Tong alias Steven Chong, was shot by a 12-man firing squad.

Human rights campaigners in the country have since then demanded an end to capital punishment.

According to Law No. 22/1997 on narcotics and Law No. 5/1997 on psychotropic substances, a violation carries the maximum punishment of death.

Under the country's legal system, a convict is allowed to appeal twice and seek clemency and a case review, a process that often takes several years.

The Attorney General's Office has said at least four of the 30 convicts on death row would follow Chaubey because their demands for clemency had been rejected.

These include Meirika Franola, Rani Maharani and Dany Maharwan, whose death sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court in 2001. Their second request for clemency was rejected.

According to a recent survey by the National Narcotics Agency and the University of Indonesia, around 4 percent of Indonesians, or around nine million people, used drugs in 2003, four times higher than in the previous year.

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