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Indonesia foreign minister defends executions of Catholic militants

[JURIST] Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda [profile, in Indonesian] insisted Sunday that the recent executions of three Roman Catholic militants convicted [BBC report] in 2001 of leading a Christian militia which killed at least 70 Muslims in 2000 [BBC backgrounder] were legally justified. In an attempt to defuse tension manifested in rioting by Christian protestors [JURIST report] last week, Wirajuda defended the legal process leading to the executions, which involved local courts, provincial courts and the Supreme Court, and said the matter pertained to law enforcement and had no connection to the relationship between Indonesia's Muslim and Christian populations. He also recognized the need for the government to discuss the matter with religious leaders to demonstrate that the case was purely secular.

Human rights activists have questioned the executions' fairness [Amnesty International press release], maintaining that Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu, and Dominggus da Silva were not militia leaders. European Union and Vatican officials have decried the executions in light of death threats received by defense lawyers and the large groups of Muslims that regularly gathered outside the courtroom in an attempt to intimidate judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and witnesses. Opponents also point to the fact that only a handful of Muslims have been prosecuted and have received jail sentences of less than fifteen years for their roles in the deaths of over 1,000 Muslims and Christians between 1999 and 2002. Aljazeera has more.

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