NEW DELHI: The fate of an Indian facing death sentence in Indonesia will be discussed during Indonesian President Joko Widodo India visit beginning Monday. However, the Indonesian government has indicated that any change in his sentence is unlikely.
The Indian national, Gurdip Singh, has been facing threat of firing squad in Indonesia. After frantic diplomatic efforts from India his death sentence was postponed in July. But the only hope for the 48-year-old is winning a presidential clemency. Singh was convicted for carrying 300 gms of Heroin.
Before embarking on his state visit to India President Widodo has contended that the capital punishment given to convicts is based on the serious nature of their crimes and not on nationality. "My duty as President is to uphold the law and Indonesia's sovereignty. This will be applied in all cases, including those involving capital punishment.” Asked specifically if he would pardon Singh on death row, President Widodo said: “The death penalty is imposed only on individuals who have carried out serious crimes, and is not based on nationality.”
Widodo will be coming on two day state visit to India, his first after assuming power in 2014, on December 12. He will be coming with a big delegation and would be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India has been trying to impress upon the Indonesian leadership to exhaust all legal recourses before the death penalty was carried out. Singh was arrested in 2004 from Indonesian Soekarno Hatta Airport and he was awarded death sentence in 2005 by Tangerang Court for carrying the contraband. Singh’s appeal challenging the death penalty was turned down by the High court of Banten and the Supreme Court.
Indonesia resumed executions in 2013, ending a four-year unofficial moratorium on the death penalty. In the face of strong international criticism, Indonesia has defended the use of capital punishment, arguing the country is facing a drug emergency. Presently 1.2 million people in Indonesia are estimated to be addicted to drugs and about 4.5 million are undergoing rehabilitation.