Indonesia hits 13 in Iranian-led drug gang with death sentence

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A screen grab of an online video showing defendants in Sukabumi drug case being sentenced to death. The Jakarta Post/ANN

Indonesia has handed death sentences to a gang of more than a dozen drug traffickers, including an Iranian couple and a Pakistani man, the prosecutor’s office said.

A total of 13 suspects – three Iranians, a Pakistani and nine Indonesians – were ordered to be executed by firing squad for the gang’s role in smuggling about 400kg of methamphetamine, according to authorities.

The ruling was delivered by video link late on April 6 in West Java’s Sukabumi city, where members of the drugs ring were caught last June, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Iranian Hossein Salari Rashid led the smuggling plot, said Bambang Yunianto, head of the Sukabumi prosecutors’ office.

He added: “There are four foreigners in the group with [Rashid] the mastermind of the crime. He was sentenced together with his wife.”

April 6’s ruling was a record for the number of drug traffickers sentenced to death at one time in Indonesia, Amnesty International said.

It brought to 30 the number of people given the death penalty in the country this year, including several foreigners, the rights group said.

Most were drug trafficking cases, it added.

Indonesia has some of the world’s toughest anti-drug laws, but it has held off conducting executions for several years. In 2019, A French drug trafficker briefly on death row saw his sentence reduced to a long prison term on appeal.

A year earlier, eight Taiwanese smugglers were sentenced to death by an Indonesian court after being caught with around a tonne of crystal methamphetamine.

Several foreign traffickers have been executed by firing squad, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in 2015, a case that sparked diplomatic outrage and a call to abolish the death penalty.

The pair were the accused ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine heroin smuggling gang.