Mentally ill Brazilian was 'not aware' of imminent execution in Indonesia

British grandmother could be next in line to face the firing squad
Mentally ill Brazilian was 'not aware' of imminent execution in Indonesia

A Mass is held last night for convicted drug trafficker Rodrigo Gularte, who was executed on Wednesday despite claims that he was a paranoid schizophrenic (Photo by Ryan Dagur)

A mentally ill Brazilian executed in Indonesia on Wednesday was delusional and oblivious to his fate until the final moments before he faced a firing squad, his lawyer and priest said Thursday.

Convicted drug trafficker Rodrigo Gularte, 42, was executed along with six other foreigners on Wednesday despite his family's pleas that he was a paranoid schizophrenic.

"He had a delusional mind," said Gularte's lawyer Ricky Gunawan, saying the Brazilian failed to appreciate the reality when he was given 72 hours' notice of his execution.

"When we said your death sentence will be implemented, he said, 'What death sentence? I will not be sentenced to death.'

"I'm not sure whether he really 100 percent understood he would be executed," he said, adding that Gularte was adamant that the water on their prison island was poisoned.

The lawyer said he tried to ask Gularte about his final requests, but the Brazilian responded with amusement. 

"He was just laughing. 'Is it just like Aladdin, when we ask for three wishes?'" Gunawan quoted Gularte as asking.

"When we tried to talk about the serious things ... he kept avoiding, to other silly things. He was calm, as if nothing was happening."

Gularte was arrested in 2004 while trying to enter Indonesia with six kilograms (13.2 pounds) of cocaine in his surfing gear.

Irish priest Father Charlie Burrows, who was Gularte's counselor in the final days, said the Brazilian was confused about what was happening as prison guards and police prepared him for death.

"I thought he'd got the message he was to be executed but ... when the chains started to go on, he said to me, 'Oh Father ... am I being executed?'" Burrows told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"He didn't get angry, he was annoyed. The big thing was, 'Oh, why is this happening, this is not right, I made a small mistake and why can't they just leave me in jail on the island and I won't give anybody any trouble'.

"I'd thought I'd explained to him what was going to happen. Obviously it didn't get through."

Indonesia's execution of the drug convicts — Gularte, two Australians, four Nigerians and one Indonesian — has sparked a storm of international protest.

Brazil has expressed "deep regret" at Gularte's execution and said it is weighing its next move, having stressed to Indonesia the fragility of his state of mind as grounds for clemency. 

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Burrows said Gularte had been hearing voices in his head.

"Everybody was being prepared for days before and everybody knew there was going to be an execution," the priest said.

"But because he hears these voices and he reckons because the voices told him, 'No, everything is going to be grand', he believes the voices more than he does anybody else."

During a Mass held for Gularte last night, Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta said “it is time for [the] Indonesia that we love to abolish the death penalty”.

“Justice can never be reached by taking people’s lives,” he added.

British national could be next

Lindsay Sandiford, a British grandmother on death row in Indonesia, may be the next condemned drug convict to be put before a firing squad.

The BBC quoted Sandiford’s lawyer Craig Tuck as saying that Sandiford, who was sentenced to death in 2013, fears she could be next in line to be executed, as Indonesian President Joko Widodo mounts a campaign against what he says is a national emergency caused by rising drugs use.

Sandiford — who was caught trying to smuggle a huge stash of cocaine into Bali — claims she was coerced into trafficking, and her family recently launched a fundraising drive to raise the money needed to lodge an appeal at the Indonesian Supreme Court, after the British government refused to fund her legal fight.

New Zealand lawyer Tuck, who is leading an international pro bono legal team representing Sandiford, says the money is needed to retain Indonesian lawyers who can fight her case.

If this challenge fails, Sandiford still has the opportunity to appeal for clemency from Widodo. 

The convicts executed Wednesday recently had their mercy pleas rejected by the president, and Jakarta has repeatedly insisted his decision is final.

Additional reporting by Ryan Dagur for in Jakarta

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