Indonesia court: No new evidence in Mary Jane case

LETTER TO INDONESIAN PRESIDENT. Mary Jane Veloso's family - her parents and two children - hands the appeal letter to the Indonesian embassy in the Philippines on April 9. Photo from Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso Facebook page

LETTER TO INDONESIAN PRESIDENT. Mary Jane Veloso's family - her parents and two children - hands the appeal letter to the Indonesian embassy in the Philippines on April 9.

Photo from Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso Facebook page

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia's Supreme Court rejected the case review request of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso because it did not find new evidence to support it, a local court said after receiving a copy of the verdict, which means the Filipina moves another step closer to execution.

Marliyus, the lead judge at the Sleman District Court in Yogyakarta who chaired the hearings on the convicted Filipino drug courier's case review request, told reporters on Wednesday, April 15, that they had just received the March 25 Supreme Court decision.

"The judges didn't find any mistakes during the previous trials, and Mary Jane's (first) lawyer didn't file a complaint on the translator matter," Marliyus said, according to state news agency Antara

Lawyers for the 30-year-old mother of two told Rappler they have yet to see the verdict, but will seek a second case review as soon as they receive a copy. (READ: Fresh legal bids for Filipina, Bali 9 on death row)

"A member of our team went to Yogyakarta to get a copy of the decision. Once the copy is in Jakarta, we will file the second appeal as soon as possible, hopefully within the week," Sisca, one of Veloso's lawyers, told Rappler on Wednesday.

Translator issue

The matter of the translator was central to the request for the Supreme Court to review whether Veloso deserves the death penalty for bringing in 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia from Malaysia in 2010. (FAST FACTS: The case of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso)

Veloso maintains she was tricked into bringing the suitcase full of heroin, and her current lawyers argue that the lack of a competent translator during the first trial prevented her from effectively defending herself.

But during the hearings in March, prosecutors said any objection to the translator should have been filed at the beginning of the first trial.

In response, Agus said that Veloso's lawyer at the time was a pro bono one provided the government.

"Not professional," he said in court.

Veloso's lawyers had been optimistic about their chances. In 2007, the Supreme Court granted the case review request of Thai national Nonthanam M. Saichon, who was sentenced to death by the Tangerang District Court in 2002 for smuggling 600 grams of heroin, because of the same translator issue. Her sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. 

Transfer, execution loom

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Attorney General said they were preparing to hold the next batch of executions after the 2015 Asia Africa Conference.

At least 28 heads of state have confirmed they would attend the international summit that will open in Jakarta on April 18 and close in Bandung on April 24. 

"It's quite unethical (for us to carry out the executions) while we are receiving several heads of state," Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo said on Tuesday. "But definitely we will carry it out."

The Sleman court said it would proceed to provide copies of the Supreme Court verdict to the high court in Yogyakarta and to Veloso.

According to the Attorney General's Office, once "these administrative matters" have been completed, they will transfer Veloso to Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, where the executions by firing squad will be carried out. 

Veloso, like the other death row convicts, will be placed in semi-solitary confinement until her execution, which she will be notified of 72 hours before it takes place. – with reports from Adelia Putri and Ata/Rappler.com

Related stories:

Mary Jane and her family

Legal process in Indonesia

Philippine government efforts

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