National

Convict escapes capital
punishment

The Supreme Court has once again annulled a death sentence handed down to a drug convict, reducing it to life sentence, at a time when the government is pledging to increase the use of capital punishment.

The official website of the Supreme Court said that a panel of appellate judges had accepted a case review of international drug ring member Deni Setia Maharwa, also known as Rapi Mohammed Majid, commuting the death penalty to life.

In early 2000, Deni was apprehended at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta for trying to smuggle 3 kilograms of cocaine and 3.5 kilograms of heroin out of the country. Deni was sentenced to death by the Tangerang District Court on Aug. 22, 2000. The following year, the Supreme Court rejected his appeal.

The Supreme Court did not say when the ruling on the case review was issued. The court only revealed that a request for the case review had been filed in June last year.

Deni is the seventh drug convict to have escaped the death penalty. The Supreme Court had earlier commuted a death sentence against Meirika Franola, Deni’s accomplice in the crime, to life.

Other death row inmates whose sentences have been commuted are Hanky Gunawan; Nigerian national, Hillary K. Chimezie; Australian, Matthew James Norman; Vietnamese-Australian, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen; and Chinese national, Si Yi Chen.

The Supreme Court’s decisions have won plaudits from human rights activists who are convinced that the death penalty has no deterrent effect on criminals.

The Law and Human Rights Ministry, however, said it would double its efforts in favor of more death sentences. Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Denny Indrayana said the government would particularly target drug and graft convicts.

“One sentence commutation doesn’t affect all [Supreme Court decisions]. We will still apply the death penalty. The Supreme Court has determined that the death penalty is constitutional,” Denny said on Wednesday during a seminar on capital punishment to commemorate World Day against the Death Penalty.

Deny said the death penalty would be a last resort for punishing drug and graft convicts, whom he considered had committed “crimes against humanity”.

The former aide to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also insisted that Indonesia would not be adopting the 2007 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 62/149, which calls for a moratorium on capital punishment.

“Each country has different needs. The death penalty exists only if needed,” he said. (yps)

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