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Indonesia

Activists rubbish comments about ex-priest on death row

Indonesian prosecutor's assertion of imminent execution is premature

Activists rubbish comments about ex-priest on death row
Herman Jumat Masan (left) and one of his lawyers. (Photo supplied)
 

Church activists in Indonesia have criticized recent comments made by a senior prosecutor, who suggested the execution of a former priest convicted of murder is imminent.

Budi Handaka, prosecutor for the East Nusa Tenggara provincial High Court told reporters earlier this month that the execution of former priest Herman Jumat Masan would soon take place.

Masan was sentenced to death in February 2014 for murdering his lover and children following an illicit affair more than a decade ago.

Divine Word Father Paulus Rahmat, director of the UN-affiliated rights and social justice group Vivat International Indonesia, called the prosecutor's comments premature.

The judicial process is not yet exhausted, "Masan still has the right appeal and call for a judicial review which he is doing," Father Rahmat told ucanews.com on Sept. 27.

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He said his organization and other groups are helping prepare documents and evidence for the appeal.

"It is expected the judicial review documents will be completed before the end of this year," Father Rahmat said.

Martinus Gabriel Goa Sola, director of Advocacy Service for Justice and Peace in Indonesia (Padma) also criticized the prosecutor's comments.

"In addition to the judicial reviews, he [Masan] also still has the right to appeal for clemency from the president. So the process is still ongoing," he said.

Masan is currently on death row in a prison on the Catholic majority island of Flores.

He was sentenced to death in 2014 after appealing a life sentence handed down the from Maumere District Court in August 2013.

According to prosecutors Masan had an illicit affair while serving as a priest in Larantuka Diocese with Yosefin Kredok Payong, a former nun.

The affair resulted in the birth of a child in 1999, but Masan strangled the baby to cover up the affair, prosecutors said.

The relationship continued, and in 2002, a second birth took place.

However there were complications and Yosefin began bleeding heavily during the birth.

Prosecutors contended that Masan did nothing to try and save the pair, who both died.

The former priest then buried their bodies to conceal his crimes, they said.

Roy Rening, one of Masan's lawyers, told ucanews.com on Sept. 27 that there are 16 lawyers working on the appeal.

The death sentence was harsh because the penalty does not fit the crime, he said.

"The fact is our client did not commit premeditated murder, but was just inattentive which caused loss of life," he added without referring to the death of the first child.

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