June 22, 2015 / 4:27 AM / 3 years ago

French convict on Indonesian death row loses clemency appeal

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian court rejected a French national’s last-ditch appeal against the death sentence on Monday, making him the latest foreigner to face execution for drug offences and prompting a message of support for the prisoner from France.

Chief judge Ujang Abdullah concludes the appeal hearing for French death row prisoner Serge Atlaoui's appeal at the administrative court in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 22, 2015. REUTERS/Nyimas Laula

Serge Atlaoui had been granted a last-minute reprieve while legal avenues were exhausted and was left out of a group of seven foreign prisoners who were executed on April 29.

President Joko Widodo’s refusal to grant clemency despite repeated pleas for mercy has strained Indonesia’s relations with a number of countries including Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands and Nigeria, which have all had citizens on death row.

Indonesia has harsh punishments for drug crimes but imposed an informal moratorium on executions for five years before resuming in 2013. Under Widodo’s term, Indonesia has executed 14 convicts, mostly foreign citizens, so far this year.

Atlaoui has no further legal options but will not be executed during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Tony Spontana, a spokesman for the Indonesian Attorney General’s Office, told reporters.

“There’s no other legal avenues that his (Atlaoui) lawyers can take, therefore the execution will definitely go ahead,” added Spontana, who gave no other indication of when Atlaoui might face the firing squad.

“For sure it will not happen in the Ramadan month.”

Atlaoui’s lawyer, Nancy Yuliana Sunjoto, said his legal team would still look for other legal channels.

French President Francois Hollande warned Indonesia of diplomatic consequences last month should Atlaoui’s execution go ahead.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Monday France firmly opposed the death penalty and was “totally mobilized” behind Atlaoui.

“We’re in contact with the family and lawyers of Serge Atlaoui, who plan further courses of action,” he said in a statement.

Atlaoui was arrested in a raid on a factory producing ecstasy pills on the outskirts of the capital, Jakarta, in 2005. He has maintained his innocence, saying he thought he was working in an acrylics factory.

“He didn’t know anything about the chemicals. He’s just a welding technician,” Sunjoto said.

Additional reporting by Johan Burnomo and Fransiska Nangoy and Brian Love in Paris; Writing by Michael Taylor; Editing by Nick Macfie

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