Retrial sought for man on death row
Rights group cites legal abuses in heroin case
Rights organizations called on Indonesia’s attorney-general yesterday to stop the execution of a textile worker who was sentenced to death more than seven years ago. The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) urged Attorney-General Basrief Arief to ensure that Zulfiqar Ali, who came to Indonesia from Pakistan in 2000 and was arrested four years later for possessing 300 grams of heroin, “is re-tried in proceedings that comply with international fair trial standards.” ADPAN cites instances of abuse, denial of access to legal counsel, and improper court proceedings. Ali has been in prison since he was tried in 2005. He was sentenced to death five months later. The court rejected a witness statement which said the drugs did not belong to him, because the statement had not been dated. During his pre-trial detention, Ali was denied a lawyer. During his arrest and detention, he was also refused the right to contact the Pakistani embassy, which is a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Ali also alleges that he was beaten by police officers almost every day from his arrest until he signed a confession. “Investigate the reports of torture and other ill-treatment, and ensure that all statements resulting from such coercion are completely excluded from any retrial,” ADPAN said in a letter published on Amnesty International’s website. Haris Azhar from the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) said the death sentence could be canceled if there was strong evidence indicating that Ali was not a criminal. “We can send an official letter to the president, asking him to reopen this case,” he said, adding that this possibility exists since there were violations of the law. He acknowledged that KontraS has not yet conducted an investigation into the case. “But we will move fast if there are an urgent appeal and new findings which can be used to free Ali from the death sentence,” he said.