Hollande vows fight to save Frenchman facing death in Indonesia

23rd June 2015, Comments 0 comments

French President Francois Hollande said his country was doing "everything" it can to save a Frenchman accused of drug offences in Indonesia from the firing squad after he lost an appeal against his death sentence Monday.

Serge Atlaoui, 51, was due to be executed alongside eight other drug offenders two months ago but won a temporary reprieve after Paris stepped up pressure, with Indonesian authorities agreeing to let an outstanding appeal run its course.

On Monday the State Administrative Court in Jakarta dismissed Atlaoui's appeal, in which his lawyers argued that the president rejected the convict's plea for clemency without proper consideration.

The court upheld its previous decision from April that it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the challenge to the clemency plea, which is typically a death row convict's final chance to avoid execution.

"It will be up to the lawyers to decide what other avenues to pursue" said the French head of state to the press after a European summit in Brussels late Monday, adding "France, without going into the legal debate, is doing everything to keep Serge Atlaoui alive."

The execution in April of two Australians, a Brazilian, four Nigerians and an Indonesian sparked global anger. But President Joko Widodo insists convicted traffickers must be harshly punished, saying Indonesia is facing a crisis due to rising drug use.

Atlaoui's lawyers vowed they would continue fighting for his life, saying: "We are not asking for him to be set free, we are just asking for his sentence to be reduced to life imprisonment."

Indonesian authorities signalled the execution would not happen during Islam's holiest month, Ramadan, which ends mid-July in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

Atlaoui, a welder, was arrested in 2005 in a secret drugs factory outside Jakarta, with authorities accusing him of being a "chemist" at the site.

But the father of four has maintained his innocence, claiming that he was installing machinery in what he thought was an acrylics plant.

He was initially sentenced to life in prison but the Supreme Court increased the sentence to death on appeal.

France has mounted a diplomatic campaign to save him, warning Jakarta of unspecified consequences if he is put to death and questioning Indonesia's legal system, which has a reputation as deeply corrupt.

Following Monday's decision, France's European Affairs Minister Harlem Desir said "the whole of the French diplomatic service" was being mobilised to save Atlaoui.

Indonesia has some of the toughest anti-drugs laws in the world. Jakarta resumed executions in 2013 after a hiatus of several years, and since Widodo took office, 14 drug convicts, mostly foreigners, have been executed.


© 2015 AFP

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