PARIS: French President Francois Hollande warned Indonesia on Wednesday that the execution of a Frenchman for drug offenses would damage ties between the two nations.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also summoned the Indonesian ambassador in Paris a day after Serge Atlaoui, 51, had an appeal rejected by Indonesia’s Supreme Court, taking him closer to execution by firing squad for his role in a clandestine ecstasy lab near Jakarta.
Imprisoned in Indonesia for a decade, the father-of-four denies the charges, saying he was installing industrial machinery in what he thought was an acrylics factory.
Atlaoui’s wife Sabine told AFP she had been the one to break the news of the rejected appeal to him.
“I spoke to him on the phone this morning,” she said from Indonesia.
“He called me from prison and . . . I finally was able to give him the terrible news.
“My husband is strong, he is a fighter, brave and ready to continue fighting until the end.”
His family has issued impassioned appeals in recent days, begging Hollande and the European Union to save him.
The French leader warned Wednesday that executing Atlaoui “would be damaging for Indonesia, damaging for the relations that we would like to have with it.”
If put to death, Atlaoui would be the first Frenchman to be executed anywhere in nearly 40 years.
He is one of several foreign drug convicts on death row in Indonesia who recently lost appeals for presidential clemency. They are expected to be executed once final legal appeals are resolved.
Indonesia unlikely to budge Drug laws in Indonesia are among the world’s toughest.
President Joko Widodo, who took office in October, has been a vocal supporter of putting drug traffickers to death, saying the country is facing a narcotics emergency.
In January, the country executed six people accused of drug trafficking, including Brazilian and Dutch nationals.
As such, analysts say France’s repeated calls for clemency have little chance of succeeding.
“Politically, he (Widodo) has understood that Indonesians want a firm leader, and he wants to show that he is a firm president, compared to his predecessor (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) who was known for his indecision,” said political analyst Yohanes Sulaiman.
Added to this, the death penalty has considerable support in Indonesia among the elites and wider population.
According to a poll conducted by the Indo Barometer agency among 1,200 people last month, more than 84 percent of those questioned were in favor of sentencing drug traffickers to death.
In any case, it is unlikely that France or other countries whose nationals are also on death row—such as Australia—will impose any serious sanctions on Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
After the first batch of executions in January, Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors in protest, though the diplomats came back after just a few weeks.