France condemns 'shocking' Indonesia failings on death row case

23rd April 2015, Comments 0 comments

Paris on Thursday accused Indonesia of "serious dysfunction" in its legal system that led to a Frenchman being sentenced to death, deepening a diplomatic spat over the upcoming execution.

Serge Atlaoui, 51, lost his final appeal against his death sentence for drug offences this week, taking him closer to execution by firing squad.

French President Francois Hollande warned Indonesia that executing Atlaoui would damage ties between the two nations and on Wednesday Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius summoned the Indonesian ambassador to discuss the case.

Fabius also wrote a letter to his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi in which he said Atlaoui had been the victim of a hasty trial and was sentenced "in a ruling containing erroneous statements".

"The eventual execution of Mr Atlaoui would be even more incomprehensible to the government and French people as, due to serious dysfunction in the Indonesian legal system, he did not benefit from his due rights," wrote Fabius.

Atlaoui was arrested near Jakarta in 2005 in a secret laboratory producing ecstasy and was sentenced to death two years later.

- 'Particularly shocking' -

Imprisoned in Indonesia for a decade, the father-of-four has always denied the charges, saying he was installing industrial machinery in what he thought was an acrylics factory.

Fabius said it was "particularly shocking" that the Supreme Court decision was handed down in only a few weeks without calling witnesses, while the Indonesian ringleaders' case had been subject to hearings for over a year.

"This is a discriminatory procedure against one of our citizens who does not benefit from the same guarantees as Indonesian citizens in the same case."

Fabius said the death sentence contained errors describing Atlaoui as a chemist while witness statements proved he was working as a welder in the factory where the drugs were being produced.

France "urgently requests that Indonesia respect its own rule of law and international obligations of the convention to which it belongs," said Fabius, urging the country to grant Atlaoui clemency.

Responding to the letter, Marsudi said she would discuss it with Fabius by telephone on Thursday evening.

"I will explain the legal system in Indonesia and I will explain the emergency situation caused by drug crimes in Indonesia," she told AFP.

"This is a legal affair. If there's indeed a concern on the legal system then it should be proven legally."

The EU also weighed in on the case, saying it takes a "strong and principled position against the death penalty in all cases".

"While we acknowledge the fact that Indonesia has to cope with a growing drugs problem, experience in other countries strongly suggests that capital punishment is not the answer," said foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in a statement.

"The EU is prepared to explore ways of supporting Indonesia's efforts in the fight against drugs," she added.

Atlaoui is one of several foreign drug convicts on death row in Indonesia who recently lost appeals for presidential clemency, typically a last chance to avoid the firing squad.

If put to death, Atlaoui would be the first Frenchman to be executed anywhere in nearly 40 years.

Drug laws in Indonesia are among the world's toughest and President Joko Widodo, who took office in October, has been a vocal supporter of putting drug traffickers to death, saying the country is facing a narcotics emergency.

In January, the country executed six people accused of drug trafficking, including Brazilian and Dutch nationals.

As such, analysts say France's repeated calls for clemency have little chance of succeeding.

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© 2015 AFP

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