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Binay to meet death row’s Veloso in prison

/ 03:04 PM April 21, 2015

INDONESIA-AUSTRALIA-PHILIPPINES-CRIME-DRUGSPhilippines Vice President Jejomar Binay is planning to visit Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina on Indonesia’s death row, on the sidelines of his visit to Indonesia this week to attend the 60th anniversary of the Asian-African Conference, a senior diplomat from the Philippines has said.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Jesus Domingo, the assistant secretary for the UN and international organizations at the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, said Vice President Binay was expecting to use his visit to look for opportunities to save Veloso from the firing squad.

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“We’ve requested the opportunity to visit her,” he said on the sidelines of the Asian-African Ministerial Meeting on Monday.

“Our vice president is hoping for a chance to visit her and to speak with the relevant officials in the Indonesian government to see if there are any other legal remedies that can be tried to secure her a release or at least spare her from the death penalty.”

Veloso, who was involved in trafficking 2.6 kilograms of heroin via Adi Sutjipto Airport in Yogyakarta in 2010, is one of a number of foreign nationals to be executed in the near future. The 30-year-old is currently waiting to be transferred from Wirogunan Penitentiary in Yogyakarta to the Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, where she will face a firing squad alongside nine other convicts.

Last month, Veloso filed for a second case review with the Sleman District Court after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected her clemency request. The Supreme Court later rejected her second request.

Binay, a frontrunner in the 2016 Philippines presidential race, is set to fly to Indonesia on Wednesday to attend the conference, held in Jakarta and Bandung, West Java, from April 19 to April 24. Domingo, however, did not elaborate whether Binay had secured permission from local authorities to visit Veloso in prison.

Earlier, Presidential Chief of Staff Luhut Panjaitan, who is also the head of the conference’s organizing committee, said that President Jokowi was scheduled to hold separate bilateral meetings with 18 heads of state or heads of government on the sidelines of the six-day event.

As of Monday, however, it had not been clarified which heads of state or heads of government will meet President Jokowi.

Philippines media have reported that Binay has also pledged to make a last-ditch appeal to President Jokowi to spare Veloso’s life.

“I am hoping that we will be given the opportunity to personally appeal to His Excellency’s kind heart for the commutation of the sentence of Mary Jane,” Binay said on Monday in a statement as quoted by Inquirer.net.

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Earlier this month, Attorney General M Prasetyo said that no executions would be carried out by the government prior to or during the conference, which is welcoming high-profile delegations from a host of nations .
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“I am hoping that we will be given the opportunity to personally appeal to His Excellency’s kind heart for the commutation of the sentence of Mary Jane.”

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TAGS: death row, Mary Jane Veloso, Philippines VP, Prison, Veloso
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