Saudi executions won't affect Indonesia plans, official says

JAKARTA, Indonesia – The beheading of two Indonesian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia this week will not affect Indonesia's own execution plans, the attorney general said.  

"We respect the rule of law. The difference is that we provide notification of an execution to the ambassador 3 days before it happens, but they did not," Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo told reporters on Friday, April 17.

His comments came a day after Saudi Arabia executed another Indonesian domestic worker, Karni binti Medi Tarsim, 37, who was convicted of murdering a 4-year-old girl in 2012.

She reportedly slit the child's throat with a kitchen knife while the child was asleep. The parents, Tarsim's employers, were at work when it happened.  

In a panicked drive home, the father, Khalid, crashed into a motorcyclist and his 6-year-old daughter. Both also perished.

 

Tarsim's execution in Yanbu, western Saudi Arabia, came two days after another Indonesian helper, Siti Zainab, was beheaded for murder.

No advanced notice

In both cases, Jakarta expressed anger that it was not given advance notice of the execution. (READ: Indonesia protests beheading of domestic worker in Saudi Arabia)

In a statement related to Tarsim's case, the ministry expressed "regret and disappointment that representatives of Indonesia both in Riyadh and Jeddah did not obtain official information regarding the time and place of execution".

A day before her execution, Tarsim, from the main island of Java, was visited by an Indonesian official but neither the prison authorities nor the convict gave any indication the execution was imminent, the ministry said.

Jakarta said it mounted a sustained campaign to try to save Tarsim, with two letters requesting mercy sent by President Joko Widodo and one by his predecessor.

"The government of Indonesia has done its utmost to provide legal protection and has sought forgiveness from the victim's family with the aim of getting Tarsim's death sentence commuted," the ministry said.

Jakarta did not give details of the method used to put Tarsim to death.

Riyadh's ambassador to Jakarta was summoned to the foreign ministry late Thursday to hear Jakarta's complaints about the process. The ambassador, Mustafa Ibrahim Al-Mubarak, was also summoned on Wednesday over the first execution.

Saudi Arabia has long been a major destination for Indonesian workers, but authorities placed a moratorium on sending new helpers to the country in 2011 after the beheading of a maid.

In the first execution on Tuesday, Zainab was beheaded in the Muslim holy city of Medina after being convicted of stabbing a Saudi woman to death in 1999. Rights groups said there were suspicions she was mentally ill.

Drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death under the kingdom's strict version of Islamic sharia law. Amnesty International has decried a "macabre spike" in Saudi executions this year.

Indonesia execution plans remain

Migrant Care, an NGO advocating for the rights of Indonesian workers abroad, has urged Indonesia to abandon the death penalty "as a first step to push other countries to not impose the death penalty on migrant workers".

There are 36 more Indonesian migrant workers facing the death penalty in Saudi, according to government data, out of a total of 228 Indonesians on death row in foreign countries.  

But Indonesian officials maintain the execution plans will continue despite their own protests against Saudi Arabia.

"Our commitment is to protect our citizens, that is our priority," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said earier this week. "But there's an issue of law enforcement which we have to enforce domestically."

Prasetyo has also said they were preparing to hold the next batch of executions, which could include Filipino citizen Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso and the Australian Bali Nine pair, after the 2015 Asia Africa Conference.

At least 28 heads of state have confirmed they would attend the international summit that will open in Jakarta this weekend, April 18, and close in Bandung on April 24.

"It's quite unethical (for us to carry out the executions) while we are receiving several heads of state," Prasetyo said on Tuesday. "But definitely we will carry it out." – Reports from Febriana Firdaus, Ata, and Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com