Dutch authorities face accusations of negligence

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Lawyer of two Dutch citizens facing Indonesian firing squad said their trials in Indonesia is flawed.

9 April 2008

THE NETHERLANDS - The lawyer of two Dutch citizens who are facing an Indonesian firing squad is accusing the authorities in The Hague of negligence.

In 2003 and in 2006, the Indonesian courts found both men guilty of manufacturing the drug Ecstasy. Dutch lawyer Bart Stapert, who is now representing the condemned men, says both their trials "were flawed in numerous respects".

Stapert says his clients were represented by lawyers "who were not specialised and lacked the necessary experience, especially considering so much was at stake".

"Dutch officials attended the trials and consular assistance was offered, but no reasonable steps have as yet been taken to prevent the death sentence from being carried out. And The Netherlands failed to provide specialised legal help at any point, not even at the highest appeal level."

Stapert maintains that this defies belief considering that The Netherlands has consistently spoken out against the death penalty, and that its abolition has been a central plank of Dutch human rights policy for years.

Stapert believes that a plea for clemency to Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is bound to fail in the present political climate. He has sent a letter to parliament, justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin and foreign minister Maxime Verhagen, calling on the authorities to do everything they can to get the cases reopened and to provide the funds to make this possible.

He believes that, even at this late stage, "concrete action in these cases could make the difference between life and death".

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]

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