Monitors say condemned woman may have been mentally ill and that her family were not notified prior to the execution
Jakarta has filed an official protest with Saudi Arabia after an Indonesian woman, believed to be mentally ill, was beheaded on Tuesday without her family being notified ahead of the execution.
Siti Zaenab Binti Duhri Rupa, 47, from Madura Island was beheaded in the Saudi Arabian city of Medina on Tuesday after spending 15 years on death row.
“The Indonesian government has filed an official protest with the government of Saudi Arabia for not providing Indonesian representatives or the victim’s family with any notification about the timing of the execution,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
Official notification about the execution was received several hours after it took place, the ministry added.
The former domestic worker was convicted of stabbing her female employer to death in October 1999.
Reports claim she killed her employer after having been abused by one of her employer’s sons. At the time of her alleged confession police suspected Siti Zaenab may have been mentally ill, reports said.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said the execution had been postponed until the youngest son reached adulthood so he could decide whether or not the family would want to pardon Siti Zaenab.
Last month, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi appealed to Saudi Arabian officials to approach the murder victim’s family and ask for forgiveness.
Jakarta-based Migrant Care, an NGO that helps Indonesian migrant workers, also protested the execution.
“[We] strongly protest against the government of Saudi Arabia for conducting the execution without providing notification to Indonesian representatives in Saudi Arabia,” Wahyu Susilo, the NGO’s policy analyst, told ucanews.com on Wednesday.
He said the execution “must become a catalyst for the Indonesian government to stop execution practices as these make the government lose its moral legitimacy which can be used to urge other countries to defend Indonesian citizens facing the death penalty in the countries”.
Wahyu was referring to several executions — most of them of foreigners — that took place in Indonesia earlier this year. More executions of foreigners are expected to take place soon in the archipelago nation.
Data from Migrant Care says that at least 290 Indonesian migrant workers now face the death penalty in China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Qatar.
Amnesty International condemned Tuesday’s execution.
“Imposing the death penalty and executing someone with a suspected mental illness smacks of a basic lack of humanity,” the London-based rights group said.
“The practice has been widely condemned on the world stage and Saudi Arabia should take this opportunity to reconsider its stance on the death penalty,” Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Program Director Philip Luther said.
Andreas Harsono, an Indonesian researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the execution should not have taken place if Siti Zaenab suffered from mental illness.
“I don’t know if there was evidence or a medical examination regarding her psychological condition during the legal process,” he told ucanews.com.
He said the execution reflected the Indonesian government’s double standard.
“The Indonesian government works very hard to save their citizens facing legal cases in other countries, but the Indonesian government here executed a foreigner with suspected mental illness for a drug-related crime,” he said, referring to a Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira who was executed in January.
Saudi ambassador to Indonesia Mustafa Ibrahim Al-Mubarak said he was "surprised" to be summoned by the Foreign Ministry about the execution but would follow up on Jakarta's concerns.
"The problem is not about the court and the execution, it is about the date of the execution," he told reporters.
"I have to check what went wrong."
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