Mary Jane Veloso’s legal case: What’s next?
JAKARTA, Indonesia – After Mary Jane Veloso’s 11th-hour reprieve on April 29, the next question is: What happens now?
At the time, Indonesian Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo only stated that the 30-year-old Filipina mother of two was granted a reprieve until “the legal process in the Philippines” concluded, referring to the prosecution of recruiter Maria Kristina Sergio, but exactly what that means is still vague.
“We sent a letter to the attorney general today (Monday, May 4) asking that the execution be suspended until the entire legal process in the Philippines and Indonesia are both completed,” Ismail Muhammad, one of Veloso’s Indonesian lawyers, explained.
The legal process in the Philippines begins on Friday, May 8, when the first hearing on the preliminary investigation into Sergio, her partner Julius Lacanilao, and an individual known as “Ike” is held. They are facing charges of illegal recruitment,estafa or swindling, and human trafficking.
Veloso, as the complainant in the Philippine case, is expected to give her testimony via video conference during the hearing. Lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) will stand as the private prosecutors representing Veloso and her family.
After that, however, there are a lot of “ifs.”
If the preliminary investigation finds enough evidence against Sergio and the rest, the case would proceed to trial, where Veloso’s testimony would still be needed.
And if Sergio and the rest are found guilty of the charges against them, Ismail said they can use this verdict to try to file a 3rd case review request for Veloso in Indonesia.
“The attorney general already said they will reopen the case if there is new evidence from the Philippines on Sergio,” the lawyer said.
A 3rd case review could be tricky, though, as Indonesian law normally only allows for one. But Ismail said they would work with both the Indonesian Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the Supreme Court to determine legal options available.
Another potential difficulty is the fact that Sergio and Lacanilao are facing illegal recruitment and human trafficking charges, which means even if they're found guilty, that still won't prove Veloso's claim – which is that she did not know Sergio gave her a suitcase with 2.6 kilograms of heroin to take to Indonesia.
"But Indonesia has a law stating that human trafficking victims must be protected," Ismail said.
If the 3rd case review request is rejected, “we will file another clemency request,” he said. “Pak Jokowi (President Joko Widodo) himself said Mary Jane deserves justice.”
At the same time, he said their Philippine counterparts, the lawyers from NUPL, are preparing to file legal briefs as amicus curiae (friend of the court) for Mary Jane, including from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Reprieve, and the International Commission of Jurists. – Rappler.com