One Indonesian and three Nigerians were executed by firing squad not long after midnight local time as torrential rains hit the Nusa Kambangan prison island where the death row inmates were held.
The government had said earlier in the week that 14 people on death row, mostly foreigners, would be executed for drug crimes. Those executed were Indonesian Freddy Budiman and Nigerians Seck Osmanu, Michael Titus and Humphrey Jefferson.
Relatives, rights groups and foreign governments had urged Indonesia to spare all 14 lives but it was unclear whether that had any influence on the decision to not carry out all the executions at once. Lawyers and rights groups had raised serious doubts about the legitimacy of the conviction of Jefferson, who had been in prison for more than a decade, as well as the convictions of an Indonesian woman Merri Utami and a Pakistani man Zulfikar Ali.
Ricky Gunawan, a lawyer from Community Legal Aid Institute who represented Jefferson and Utami, said the government’s unpredictable handling of the process was “tantamount to torture.” He had not been able to speak with Utami since the four executions were announced and nor had her appointed spiritual adviser, a Catholic priest.
“She has been in an isolation cell for three days and on the last day she had a very sad farewell with her family members,” he said. “Then apparently she is not executed.” It was the third set of executions under president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo who was elected in 2014 and campaigned on promises to improve human rights in Indonesia. Last year, the government executed 14 people convicted of drug crimes, mostly foreigners, sparking a huge outcry abroad, and particularly in Australia, which had two citizens among those condemned.