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3 put to death for leading attacks on Muslims PALU - Three Christian militants were executed by firing squad early Friday for leading attacks on Muslims six years ago that left 70 people dead, sparking fresh sectarian clashes on restive Sulawesi island, police said. Mobs torched cars and police posts in several villages before security forces restored order, said Maj. Rudy Sufahriyadi, the Poso police chief. Elsewhere they blockaded roads and threw stones at houses and government offices. At least three people were hurt.

The men were taken before the firing squad at 12:15 a.m., said a senior police officer who asked not to be identified because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media. Family members later said they had received confirmation of the men's deaths. Fabianus Tibo, 60, Marinus Riwu, 48, and Dominggus da Silva, 42, were found guilty of leading a Christian militia that launched a series of attacks in May 2000, including a machete and gun assault on an Islamic school where dozens of men were seeking shelter.

The bodies of Tibo and Riwu were flown back to their village in central Sulawesi's Morowalai district for burial, a police spokesman said. Da Silva, who came from faraway Flores island, was buried overnight in Palu, the provincial capital of central Sulawesi province. In carrying out the death sentence, Indonesia ignored an appeal last month by Pope Benedict XVI to spare the men. A Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, told the Italian news agency ANSA that news of the execution "was very sad and painful."

The case against the men has heightened tensions in the world's most populous Muslim nation and raised questions about the role religion played in punishing those allegedly behind the violence that swept Sulawesi province from 1998 to 2002, killing more than 1,000 people of both religions. Only a handful of Muslims were convicted in the violence, all for 15 years in prison or less.

The men told relatives and a priest during final prayers at their jail Thursday that they were innocent but ready to die. The executions came amid an outcry in many Muslim nations about comments made by the pope on Islam. The pontiff last week cited the words of a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman." He has since said he was "deeply sorry" about the reactions to his remarks and that they did not reflect his own opinions.

The condemned men had said they hoped investigations into the clashes would continue, noting that they had provided authorities the names of 16 Christians who allegedly instigated some of the worst bloodshed. But the government says its investigation is complete. "My father told me he was not afraid to die, he is not afraid to face his destiny," said Tibo's son, Robert. "But he wants the real killers to be caught."

Human-rights workers say the men's 2001 trial was a sham and that, while it was possible the men took part in some of the violence, they almost certainly were not the masterminds. Thousands of Christians rallied peacefully in at least seven towns Thursday. Muslim protesters also have taken to the streets in recent weeks, demanding the men be executed after two last-minute stays, the most recent just more than a month ago.

Indonesia deployed more than 2,000 police and soldiers in Palu, some guarding churches that dot the city.


Related blog entries (category 'C. Sulawesi conflict') Related blog entries (category 'C. Sulawesi conflict'):
21 September 2006 · Security crackdown ahead of execution of christian militants
20 September 2006 · Indonesia to execute three for racial rage
20 September 2006 · Need for speed in Indonesia
19 September 2006 · Indonesia sets date for execution of Christian militants
31 August 2006 · Indonesia to execute Christians despite clemency request
29 August 2006 · PNG: Indonesia denies spy story
28 August 2006 · Christians on death row seek clemency
11 August 2006 · No end in sight to Sidoarjo mudflow
14 April 2006 · Indonesia confirms a new case of human bird flu


Posted in C. Sulawesi conflict @ 22 September 2006 15:18 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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