Yudhoyono Defends Clemency Gaffe, Says He’s Been ‘Very Selective’
Made Arya Kencana
Nusa Dua. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono defended on Friday his decision to grant clemency to drug convict Meirika Franola, who was found to still be running a drug business from her prison cell after the president commuted her death sentence.
Yudhoyono reiterated a previous statement made by the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, Djoko Suyanto, that he would review the clemency.
“I received a report that the person was again involved in an illicit drug trafficking network,” Yudhoyono said on the sidelines of the fifth Bali Democracy Forum in Nusa Dua, Bali.
“If that is indeed correct, then I will review the clemency for the sake of justice. I will make a just decision in order to support justice and truth,” he added.
The president, nevertheless, disputed critics who accused him of being reckless in granting the clemency to Meirika on Sept. 26, commuting her death sentence to life in prison.
Meirika was later found to be running a drug business from her cell in Tangerang’s Women’s Penitentiary, after authorities caught Nur Aisyah with 775 grams of methamphetamine at Bandung’s Husein Sastranegara Airport. Nur said she was Meirika’s courier.
Yudhoyono said he granted Meirika clemency because she was believed to have been a mere courier, not a trafficker, let alone a drug ring leader, and that there had been long, selective process involving the Supreme Court and related cabinet ministers that led to the conclusion that she deserved the clemency.
“I’ve rejected a lot of requests for clemency to commute death sentences, as well as for those other than the death sentence. I’ve been very selective,” the president told journalists.
He added he would not blame Supreme Court officials nor his cabinet ministers for the blunder.
“They only gave considerations, and I’m the one who’s responsible,” Yudhoyono said.
He repeated his aversion to the death penalty, saying it went against the global trend.
“We must not wrongly punish people,” he said.
The president added that Indonesia has managed to save 101 of its citizens from the death penalty in other countries, out of 302 Indonesian citizens on death row abroad.