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Indonesian Court Rejects Appeal by Frenchman on Death Row for Drug Trafficking

Serge Atlaoui, 51, had contested Indonesian President Joko Widodo's refusal to pardon him after he was sentenced to death for working at an ecstasy lab.

by Matthieu Jublin
Jun 22 2015, 8:21pm

Photo by Tatan Syuflana/AP

The Administrative Court in Indonesia's capital Jakarta has rejected an appeal by Serge Atlaoui, a Frenchman sentenced to death in 2007 for drug trafficking. The Indonesian prosecutor reportedly decided the execution would not happen during Ramadan, which lasts until mid-July, but no additional information about the execution date has been provided.

Atlaoui's lawyers and French authorities said on Monday that would take additional legal and diplomatic action, but offered no specifics about their respective plans.

Atlaoui, 51, has been detained in Indonesia for 10 years. His latest appeal contested Indonesian President Joko Widodo's refusal to pardon him.

Atlaoui's legal marathon began in November 2005, when he was arrested in Tangerang, near Jakarta, in an illegal laboratory for making ecstasy. A professional welder and a father of four, he has said he believed the factory was used to manufacture acrylic.

Atlaoui was first sentenced to life in prison, a penalty that was amended to death in 2007 by the Indonesian Supreme Court.

Widodo, elected in October 2014 to lead the country withthe largest Muslim populationin the world, refused to pardon Atlaoui in January 2015. He campaigned on a hardline policy toward drugs, declaring that he would not pardon death row inmates for drug trafficking, no matter their nationality.

Related: France Is Stepping Up Efforts to Overturn the Death Sentence Of Serge Atlaoui in Indonesia

Indonesia resumed executing prisoners in 2013 after a four-year hiatus. Fourteen people have been executed for drug trafficking so far in 2015, including 12 foreigners. That number is the highest in nearly 20 years, according to the site Death Penalty Worldwide, which put the number of inmates awaiting execution at 134, including 71 for breaking drug laws.

Atlaoui's appeal, ultimately rejected on Monday, prevented him from being executed on April 29 with eight other inmates — three Nigerians, two Australians, one Ghanaian, one Brazilian, and one Indonesian — sentenced to death for other drug trafficking. The Indonesian authorities cited the ongoing trial as a reason to withdraw the Frenchman from the execution list at the last minute. French authorities said at the time that they were making "every diplomatic effort" to prevent Atlaoui's death.

The ruling Monday by the Jakarta Administrative Court was the expected outcome, and is in line with previous decisions in similar cases. "The Administrative Court does not have the authority to give a ruling on decrees made by administrative representatives," Ujang Abdullah, the president of the court, said according to Indonesian media.

"We are disappointed by this decision but we will seek other remedies," said Nancy Yuliana, one of Atlaoui's lawyers.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius said the country is "fully committed to our compatriot Serge Atlaoui," and "in touch with [his] family and lawyers." Fabius also invoked "France's steadfast opposition to the death penalty."

Follow Matthieu Jublin on Twitter: @MatthieuJublin

Related: Should There Be a Death Penalty? - The People Speak

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