National

Clemency recipient controls
drug smuggling from prison

Being spared the death penalty should mean something for drug convicts in Indonesia who receive clemency from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. For Meirika Franola aka Ola, however, her commuted sentence only means that she has more time to control her drug smuggling business from behind bars.

Earlier this week, the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) revealed that Ola, who was granted clemency on Sept. 26 last year, has been controlling drug smuggling from inside the Tangerang Penitentiary.

The BNN's West Java office apprehended on Sunday a drug smuggler identified as NA, who attempted to smuggle 775 grams of crystal methamphetamine from India to Indonesia, at Husein Sastranegara airport in Bandung.

NA reportedly stated that she was just a courier in the drug smuggling syndicate and received the order to carry the drugs from Ola, who was found guilty of attempting to smuggle 3 kilograms of cocaine and 3.5 kilograms of heroin out of the country in 2000.

BNN West Java chief Anang Pratanto said that NA’s boyfriend, who is serving a sentence at Tanjung Balai Penitentiary in Asahan, North Sumatra, introduced NA to Ola. NA was instructed to fly to Bangalore, India, to pick up the drugs. Once there, NA put the drugs inside her backpack and boarded a flight to Indonesia.

Ola’s control of drug smuggling operations has drawn criticism over the clemency awarded to her, which was granted after considering her apparent remorse for her crimes. Ola, 42, had previously lodged an appeal for clemency with the Supreme Court but her request was rejected.

People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Deputy Speaker Hajriyanto Y. Thohari said Wednesday that Ola’s involvement in the recent drug smuggling case proved the President’s carelessness in commuting the drug convict's sentence.

“The President has been deceived,” he said as quoted by tribunnews.com.

Hajriyanto said the BNN's finding was ironic as clemency was awarded in light of the convict’s remorse and human rights values.

Hajriyanto added that the President should order an investigation into this case, including those people who advised him to commute Ola's death sentence to life imprisonment.

Lawmaker Indra from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) said that Yudhoyono should apologize for his wrong decision in granting the clemency.

“The President too easily granted clemency to the drug convict, even after the Supreme Court ruled that Ola did not deserve it,” he said.

“The fact that Ola continued to control drug smuggling from prison proves that presidential clemency went to the wrong person. Yudhoyono should deliver an apology to the Indonesian people,” he said.

According to Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto, the President was considering to annul Ola's clemency.

“The convict has once again been implicated in drug smuggling. This is totally unacceptable. The President is considering annulling the clemency,” Djoko said as quoted by kompas.com. (lfr)

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