AGO tight-lipped over third round of death-row executions

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Attorney Generals Office (AGO) is tightlipped about plans to carry out the third wave of executions of death-row inmates though many were now being moved to the Nusakambangan penitentiary in Cilacap, Central Java.

"Please wait, we will inform (you) if a date has been decided. We will surely share that information," Junior Attorney General for public crime affairs, Noor Rochmad, said here on Monday.

He states that his office will also make public the number of death-row inmates who will be executed. "So, just wait for it. Reports circulating so far (regarding the executions) are not definitive news. "

Asked about the statement of Attorney General HM Prasetyo who had said recently that the executions will be carried out after the post-fasting Ied Fitr or Lebaran festivities, Rochmad merely sought to know what the attorney general had said.

"What did the Attorney General say? If he said like that, then what else (is there to say)," he wondered.

What is clear up to now is that there are still many death-row inmates who have not yet been executed, he added.

The Headquarters of the National Police has prepared a number of firing squads who will carry out the state task with regard to the planned third wave of death-row inmates executions.

"The firing squads who will act as the executors have been 100 percent ready," National Police Headquarters Spokesman Insp. Gen Boy Rafli Amar disclosed in Jakarta on Monday.

He did not, however, state how many members of the firing squad from the Police Mobile Brigade had been prepared. "We will make adjustments if the date and place of the execution are announced," Amar pointed out.

Besides the firing squad, the National Police has also made other preparations such as keeping ready doctors and escort teams which will assist the AGO in carrying out the executions of the death-row drug convicts.

Attorney General HM Prasetyo himself has not yet decided the date for the executions. "This is not as easy as waiving a hand around as it concerns the lives of people. Everything must first be prepared," he stressed.

In the meantime, the island of Nusakambangan has been closed for a week to visitors, adding to the speculation that the execution of death row prisoners on the island a few miles off the Cilacap southern Central Java coastal town, was imminent.

The government has planned to execute a number of drug convicts who were meted out death sentence and are now being held in various prisons in the country. The executions are to be carried out on the island.

A number of people planning to cross to the island to visit relatives being held in the Nusakambangan prison were made to turn back and return home from the Wijayapura port on Monday.

One among them, Nasiroh (60) expressed her disappointment at not being allowed to see her son serving a jail term in the Besi prison on the island.

"They said Nusakambangan was closed for a week," she rued, adding that the port officers had refused to give any reason.

Port authorities explained that the decision to close the island to visitors for a week had been made known to the relatives of the prisoners, but they also refused to give any reason.

Observers underlined that the execution of more death row prisoners was likely to take place soon on the island.

Earlier too, when the government was about to carry out executions of death row prisoners, the island was similarly closed.

On Sunday, Merry Utami, believed to be one of the convicts set to face the firing squad, was moved from her cell in Tangerang, Banten, to Besi prison on Nusakambangan, adding to the speculation about imminent executions.

Earlier, Attorney General M Prasetyo had let it be known that the next round of executions of death row prisoners under the present government would take place soon.

All preparations had been made for the third round of executions in cooperation with the Central Java police, Prasetyo had made clear.

Last year, 14 drug convicts awarded death penalty were executed on the same island in January and April.

Foreigners, including those from Australia, Brazil and Nigeria made up for most of the convicts executed last year.

The executions drew sharp criticism, including from home and abroad, but President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has repeatedly said he would not grant clemency to drug convicts.(*)