Saturday, November 12, 2016

Mary Jane Veloso on death row

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso is a Filipino woman who was arrested and sentenced to death for smuggling heroin into Indonesia. Her case, among others, sparked international attention towards Indonesia's capital punishment and drug prohibition laws.

Veloso was born to a poor family in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. She is the youngest of five siblings. She and her husband married when she was around 17 years old but they later separated. They have two sons. Prior to her arrest, in 2009, Veloso worked in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for about six months. Her father said that she left her job because her employer attempted to rape her.

Veloso was arrested in Indonesia in April 2010 for smuggling 2.6 kilograms (5.7 lb) of heroin in a suitcase.[Throughout her trial, she maintained her innocence, claiming that she was duped into carrying the suitcase by her godsister who convinced her to go to Indonesia after losing a job in Malaysia.

Veloso was sentenced to death in October 2010 but was spared due to a moratorium on capital punishment enacted by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. She was again scheduled to be executed in January 2015 after the election of Joko Widodo as President of Indonesia.

After her appeals to have her sentence reversed were rejected by the Indonesian courts, she was spared from the death row due to public outcry. Protests in the Philippines and in other countries were held weeks before the supposed date of her execution.

She was scheduled to be executed in Nusa Kambangan  on 29 April 2015.

At midnight on 29 April 2015, Veloso was granted a stay of execution so she could act as a witness during the trial of her alleged human trafficker. She was reprieved after reports that her trafficker had surrendered to the police had prompted Philippines President Benigno Aquino III to make a final appeal for clemency on the basis that her testimony could be invaluable in the prosecuting her alleged recruiter. Veloso's alleged trafficker Maria Kristina Sergio, along with Sergio's live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, and a third man of African descent will face[clarification needed] charges of human trafficking, illegal recruiting and estafa (fraud).Her mother believes Veloso was spared by a 'miracle'; the other eight prisoners scheduled for execution alongside her were executed by firing squad early on the morning of 29 April.

On 12 September 2016, Indonesia President Joko Widodo reported that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized Veloso's execution, according to The Jakarta Post. However, on the same day, a Manila Bulletin article said that Manny Piñol, the Philippines Agriculture Secretary, said that Duterte actually asked for clemency for Veloso.

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