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Jakarta Post

Death row convicts in Jakarta appeal for abolition of capital punishment

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, June 25, 2020   /   08:23 am
Death row convicts in Jakarta appeal for abolition of capital punishment A group of activists ask President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to postpone the execution of death row convict Merri Utami in a peaceful rally on Jl. Pahlawan in Semarang, Central Java, on July 26, 2018. (thejakartapost.com/Suherdjoko)

Death row inmates Aulia Kesuma and her son, Geovanni Kelvin, who were found guilty of soliciting the murders of Aulia’s husband and stepson, are seeking to avoid the death penalty.

Both mother and son were sentenced to death by the South Jakarta district court on June 15. The court verdict was in accordance with the demands of the prosecutors, who claimed that both Aulia and Kelvin had committed a terrible and inhumane crime.

Aulia and Kelvin planned the murder of 54-year-old Edi Chandra Purnama in August 2019. According to Aulia, who married Edi in 2011, her husband had not been employed during the entirety of their marriage. The relationship had never been harmonious, with the couple frequently fighting over the mischievous behavior of Edi’s son, Muhammad “Dana” Adi Pradana.

Aulia, who was entangled in Rp 10 billion (US$706,120) debt to the bank, worried that Edi had no intention of helping her pay off her debt. Edi had refused Aulia’s request for him to sell his house in Lebak Bulus, South Jakarta, to pay her debt.

On Aug. 23, 2019, Edi and Dana were given drinks spiked with 30 sleeping pills by Aulia and Kelvin. When the victims fell asleep, two hitmen hired by Aulia and Kelvin suffocated the two men. Afterwards, the bodies were transported to Sukabumi city in West Java where they were burned inside a car.

Not long after the murder, the Jakarta Police arrested the mother and son after noticing Kelvin’s suspicious burn wound. 

Read also: Jump in death sentences highlights ‘hasty’ court cases

After a lengthy trial, the court found Aulia and Kelvin guilty of soliciting the murders and sentenced the pair to death. 

The lawyer for the two defendants, Firman Candra, sent pleas addressed to eight state officials asking for the death penalty to be abolished.

“On Friday, we sent the pleas to the President, the Vice President, the House Representatives Commission III, the law and human rights minister, the [Jakarta] High Court chief, the Supreme Court chief and the National Commission on Human Rights, among other parties,” Firman said on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com.

In the letters, the lawyer argued that the death penalty was a violation of Article 4 of Law No. 29/1999 on human rights and most importantly Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stipulates that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

“As long as the death penalty exists in Indonesia’s judicial system, the country will remain far from the founding fathers’ dream implied through Pancasila,” the plea read. “[Maintaining] the death penalty system inherited from colonizers does not demonstrate progress in this country.”

The plea also pointed to several countries that abolished the death penalty in 2015.

Read also: Rights groups decry new attorney general's plan to resume death penalty

According to the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform’s (ICJR) 2020 database, there are 274 death row inmates in Indonesia awaiting execution without a clear date. Among them are 60 inmates who have been on death row for 10 years.

Firman also explained that Aulia was raising a toddler from her marriage to her late husband, Edi.

Amnesty International’s 2020 annual report states that 80 death sentences were meted out by Indonesian judges in 2019, a 66 percent increase from 48 death sentences in 2018.

Sixty of the sentences were handed down for drug-related crimes, while the rest were for a range of other criminal offenses such as terrorism, murder and sexual assault against children. 

The death penalty in Indonesia has long been a source of criticism of the country’s legal system and stance on human rights.

Ex-convicts and activists have also called for an end to capital punishment in Indonesia, arguing it violates fundamental human rights and is dangerous at a time when judicial systems are still prone to error.

ICJR executive director Erasmus Napitupulu questioned the tendency of judges to hand down such severe sentences, as there is little proof that capital punishment is effective in deterring crimes.

However, Vice President Ma’ruf Amin stated that, “despite many objections, the death penalty is actually permitted. Many countries and religions allow such punishment for certain crimes that cannot be effectively addressed through other methods [of punishment],” he said in December last year.

Attorney General Sanitiar Burhanuddin also said last year that he was committed to resuming the enforcement of the death penalty. (trn)