Jakarta/New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) Indian national Gurdip Singh on Friday won a temporary reprieve from execution by a firing squad in Indonesia for drug smuggling as he was not among the four prisoners executed by the authorities in that country.
Gurdip Singh was convicted along with 13 others and was due to be executed at the Nusa Kambangan prison island, known as Indonesia’s Alcatraz – in the early hours of Friday morning.
“Indian Ambassador in Indonesia has informed me that Gurdip Singh whose execution was fixed for last night, has not been executed,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Friday.
India has urged for clemency for Singh and Indian embassy officials have been in touch with the Indonesian authorities to press his case.
Muhammad Rum, spokesman for Indonesia’s attorney general, told reporters outside the Nusa Kambangan prison that two Nigerians, one Senegalese and one Indonesian were executed at 12.45 a.m. on Friday in the midst of torrential rain.
Rum said that authorities have not decided when the 10 other prisoners will be executed by firing squad.
Petitions to review their cases have been denied. The remaining 10 have also not been taken from their isolation cells.
All the 14 prisoners had been told on Tuesday that they had just 72 hours to live.
Those executed on Friday were Indonesian Freddy Budiman and Nigerians Seck Osmane, Michael Titus and Humphrey Jefferson.
Relatives, rights groups and foreign governments have been urging Indonesia to spare the lives of the 14 convicts.
It is not clear why the execution of the other 10 prisoners did not proceed.
“Of course there are considerations for it,” was all Deputy Attorney General for Crimes, Noor Rachmad would say, theage.com reported.
He said those who had been executed had filed for judicial reviews twice and both were rejected.
On Friday, Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo offered his condolences to the families and countries of the four people executed.
“Prosecutors are only following the order of the law,” he said.
He said the 10 executions were postponed following a review involving the police, consular representatives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and others.
“The postponement was done after a comprehensive review to avoid errors both judicial and non-judicial,” he said.
“The executions for the rest of those on death row will be determined later at an appropriate moment,” he was quoted as saying, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Human rights groups and lawyers have tried to persuade Indonesian President Joko Widodo to postpone the executions, claiming there was evidence of torture, corruption, bribery and miscarriage of justice.
A Pakistani national, Zulfiqar Ali, is also among the 10 whose execution did not take place.
He was also convicted of drug-related charges.
Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said in a Tweet that a last-ditch attempt by her father to convince Indonesian authorities to halt Ali’s execution proved effective “despite [a] bleak chance of success”, Dawn reported.
Gurdip Singh was arrested on August 29, 2004, at the Soekarno Hatta Airport in Jakarta on charges of drug trafficking, for attempting to carry 300 grams of heroin.
The Tangerang Court awarded him capital punishment in February 2005 against the prosecutors’ request for 20 years imprisonment.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday called on Indonesia to promptly stop executions.
On Thursday morning 17 ambulances – 14 containing coffins – were ferried to Nusa Kambangan, where the prisoners will be strapped to wooden posts and shot dead by a firing squad.
Police leaked grisly details to the media about the logistics of executions, including the size of the coffins.
They said 198 executioners would be deployed, 140 guards, 70 equipment personnel and a 16-person sterilisation team, according to The Age.