Execution, Indonesian Style: Tied to a Wooden Cross and Shot

This is how Indonesia carries out its death penalty:

The death penalty is carried out in Indonesia by firing squad, normally in the middle of the night in a remote place, illuminated by flood lights. The public are not allowed to witness executions.

Members of the police force’s elite Brimob paramilitary brigade make up firing squads. They consist of 12 armed soldiers however only three of them actually have live rounds in their weapons – the rest have blanks. Nobody knows who has the live rounds and who has the blanks. This is to ease the conscience of the firing squad and so that no-one knows who fired the killer shot.

The condemned person is tied to a wooden cross or post and the spot of their heart is illuminated on a vest they wear to guide the firing squad. The prisoner can elect to wear a hood or not and can have a religious person present until the last moments.

113 people were sentenced to death in Indonesia in 2012. (This study says 114 are on death row.)At least 8 will be executed in 2013. 40 of those on death row are foreigners. 5 foreigners have been executed for drugs.). Some inmates have taken 7 minutes to die after being shot. They lay there screaming in pain, according to witnesses. [More..]

Indonesia's highest court has rejected arguments this amounts to torture. The New York Times had this report a few years ago.

Sometimes appeals make the sentence worse. This 23 year old Briton was sentenced to life in Bali for smuggling meth. He appealed, and in September, was re-sentenced to death.

Indonesia does not deserve your tourist dollars. Many Indonesians support their barbaric laws. Here's how many reacted to Schapelle Corby's arrest:

The case of Lindsay Sandiford is raising attention to Indonesia's unacceptable policy. But the media is not fully reporting the judges' reasoning. It wasn't just that they viewed her as a threat to Bali's image.

The panel of judges viewed the defendant as being uncooperative during the trial.

“She repeatedly refused to acknowledge that the 4.7 kilograms of cocaine was hers, she didn’t provide the court with straight answers and she didn’t show any remorse for her wrongdoings.”

Not only did she cooperate, but she set up four people, who have consistently maintained their innocence. The police were unable to find any evidence corroborating her story, and that's why three got "light" sentences for possessing the minor quantities of drugs found on them when arrested. (The last one, Julian Ponder, partner of Rachel Dougall, is set to be sentenced today. Prosecutors are recommending 7 years, even though Sandiford claimed he was the leader of the ring.)

The Judges may well have believed she falsely set up the others. If Ponder gets a lesser penalty than she does, then I think it's obvious the court believed she lied to save her own skin.

Sandiford agreed to cooperate with the police in carrying out a controlled delivery to net the other suspects. Julian Anthony Ponder and his associate Paul Beales were arrested in Candidasa, Karangasem, on May 25, when Ponder allegedly received 4.7 kg of cocaine from Sandiford. The police later arrested Ponder’s partner, Rachel Lisa Dougall, and Indian national Nanda Gopal.

In previous trial sessions, Sandiford claimed that she was the courier for a drug-smuggling operation masterminded by Rachel Lisa Dougall, the women dubbed the Bali Drug Queen by the British media due to her lavish lifestyle. Sandiford disclosed that she met Dougall and Beales in Bangkok before she took the flight to Denpasar. She said that Beales placed the drugs in the lining of her suitcase and that Dougall was the owner of the drugs. Both denied the accusation.

In separate trials, prosecutors had failed to produce concrete evidence that connected Dougall, Ponder, Beales and Nanda Gopal with the smuggling attempt carried out by Sandiford.

Lindsay Sandiford is not the ideal poster image for Indonesia's draconian drug laws in my view, but if she draws global attention to the country's inhumane policies, she'll do.

It's not just those facing death. Many more are serving decades-long prison sentences. And consider the latest on Schapelle Corby. Finally eligible for parole due to clemency cuts after serving 8 years of her 20 year sentence for 4 kilos of pot she has steadfastly maintained were planted in her luggage, Indonesia changed the law two months ago and she's now ineligible:

Indonesian Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin told The Jakarta Post the 2012 Government Regulation on the Procedures of Rights of Convicts, signed by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono two months ago, had added certain new conditions for prisoners serving time on drug, corruption or terrorism convictions to be eligible for parole.

One of the new demands is for prisoners to become "justice collaborators" who can help investigators uncover other individuals associated with their crime.

Since Corby has no one to set up, and still maintains her innocence, she can't be paroled.

Not only that, Indonesia passed a new immigration law that may prevent her from either leaving Indonesia or remaining at liberty upon release:

"In the new immigration law a foreign citizen who is undergoing legal process or serving sentences is not able to be given a visa," Mr Sutarjo said.

"If a foreign citizen (does not have a) stay permit, then he or she has to go to (an) immigration detention centre.

Schapelle flew out of Sydney. An ongoing investigation into corruption and drugs among Sydney customs officials and baggage handlers continues, with arrests now up to 10, as of this week.

Boycott Bali.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Death penalty in the US (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by koshembos on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:12:47 AM EST
    The death penalty is a live and well in the US. Many prisoners on death row are found to be innocent. Our prisons are not 5-star resort either. As appalling as Indonesia is, we aren't much better.

    yes, however (none / 0) (#2)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:10:01 AM EST
    we don't put people to death for dealing drugs.

    I (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by lentinel on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:00:31 AM EST
    suppose that is true. Life sentences have been meted out, however.

    And in the case of some people, like Bradley Manning, prisoners here are held in conditions that I consider to be torture - while awaiting trial.

    We don't have the actual death penalty for drugs - or for insulting the President.

    But we do have torture.
    We do practice indefinite detention without charge or trial.

    I just wish our own record on human rights was cleaner.
    To say that we're better than Bali ain't sayin' much imo.


    and your point would be? (none / 0) (#19)
    by cpinva on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:41:57 PM EST
    To say that we're better than Bali ain't sayin' much imo.

    we, as a society, have changed, and are pushing our elected representatives to eliminate the death penalty. bali sees it as a badge of national honor. screw them. boycott the whole damn country.


    I'm (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by lentinel on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:10:55 PM EST
    for boycotting the country. No problem. I wouldn't want to be there for any reason.

    My point above was simply that I feel we, as a country, would be taken more seriously when we complain about human rights abuses if we were more observant about them ourselves.


    Well, be that as it may, (none / 0) (#21)
    by NYShooter on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:01:17 PM EST
    Insofar as there are few countries whose history is replete with glory and goodness on their road to independence, "do as I say, not as I do," does have some validity none-the-less.

    Correct... (none / 0) (#4)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:04:29 AM EST
    ...many are there for being black and being in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

    What's worse, being executed for drugs or a crime you didn't commit ?


    what's worst is (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Peter G on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:48:05 AM EST
    being executed by a torturous method for a drug crime you didn't commit. Assuming that was a serious question. I refuse to agree that there are not degrees of awful. Not that the death penalty is justified in any case.

    wow (none / 0) (#8)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:07:16 AM EST
    way to twist the conversation in to complete nonsense.  How about this... in Indonesia you could be executed for a crime of drug dealing you didn't commit.  I win.

    You Win (none / 0) (#12)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:38:38 AM EST
    Didn't realize we in competition.

    The point was, and by the comments I can see I need to clarify, we are no better as you suggested in your comment.  That question was actually rhetorical, so I guess I should not have used a question mark.


    I decided years ago that I was (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:29:17 AM EST
    against the death penalty in all cases.
     The way they are doing this in Indonesia is particularly grotesque.  They either have really bad sharp shooters or are using the wrong bullets for the job. Have they ever heard of Hollow points?
    This is a terrible story.  But I wonder, if we can't even get our government to stop executing people, what hope do we have of doing anything about Indonesia?

    I Think the Issue... (none / 0) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:08:40 AM EST
    ...is aiming for the heart, even once it stops pumping, the brain remains alive.  I am guessing it's why they don't shoot them in the head, they want them to suffer for how ever long it takes the brain to blackout w/o oxygen.  

    I don't know if they want them to suffer (none / 0) (#10)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:12:30 AM EST
    I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest they give each shooter three bullets or three blanks and instruct them to shoot twice at the chest and once to the head.
    It is harder to hit the head obviously.  But when you are hit in the chest with a hollow point bullet, you will be out cold if not dead with in a secound.

    From (none / 0) (#13)
    by lentinel on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:51:08 AM EST
    time to time we, eg: SOS Clinton, berates a foreign country for its human rights violations.

    Of course, no one takes them seriously, partially at least because we routinely violate human rights. Nevertheless, the US has berated Russia recently. I'm wondering if it has had anything to say about Indonesia - if so what, and if not, why not.


    This makes me feel (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by sj on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:28:55 AM EST
    sick to my stomach.  I am horrified whenever I contemplate capital punishment conceptually.  When it is given "realness" like this I don't quite know what to do with my psyche.

    yes (none / 0) (#11)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 10:18:01 AM EST
    almost as grotesque as what they do in Saudi Arabia to gay men and women who have sex outside of marriage, or those who are raped...same thing to the Saudis.

    Deterrence effect? (none / 0) (#16)
    by unitron on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:58:46 PM EST
    Obviously Indonesia has in place procedures to severely dis-incentivize drug smuggling and dealing, yet it continues to happen, so the rewards must be substantial for so many to think they outweigh the risks.

    Maybe instead of banning it they should nationalize and monopolize it, since demand and the resulting profits must be astronomical.

    If the government can offer users a better price than smugglers, who would still be at risk of capture and execution, they'd probably give up drug smuggling and seek a different line of work.

    Or they could start executing just for possession and use, and reduce demand that way.  They seem to be at peace with the idea of execution as a way to influence behavior.

    I am not up on (none / 0) (#18)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:29:15 PM EST
    exactly where he was hit.  In any case that is what the third bullet to the head is for.  If you are going to execute someone by firing squad, make it as humane as possible if that is not a complete contradiction.