Mary Jane. Photo credit: AsianCorrespondent.com
Yesterday we reported the sad case of a poorly educated Filipina, Mary Jane Velosa, who was caught smuggling drugs into Indonesia, and was about to be executed for the crime. While Indonesia went ahead with the executions of the other, mainly foreign drug offenders, they granted an 11th hour temporary reprieve to her based on some dramatic last minute developments.
Having read her version of what happened it certainly sounds like a credible story. She gave her own account to a Philippine news website, Rappler. It was similar to the stories of other couriers who were duped into carrying drugs. People better educated and not so desperate for money would probably not have fallen for it, but plenty of people do.
She said she left her maid’s job in Dubai after her employer tried to rape her. After three months back in the Philippines trying to get another job with a maid agency, she ran out of money and was very worried how she was going to support her children. Then a Filipina friend, Christine, said she could help her find a job in Kuala Lumpur in return for her first two months’ salary. She even paid for her ticket to KL, and on arrival bought her some clothes. A male friend of Christine’s even gave her a new suitcase as a gift to replace her tiny backpack.
She said she noticed it was little heavy and when she questioned this, her friend said it was because it was a new suitcase. The friend then told her she had found her a job which would start in one week and in the meantime she should stay with friends in Indonesia.
On arrival in Indonesia the customs cut open her suitcase and found the drugs in the lining. This is her account of her arrest; written in her own words complete with spelling and grammatical mistakes: (courtesy of www.Rappler.com)
I already in Indonesia Airport but when my bag put in X-Ray Machine… the men said to me he wants my bag to check again… Then all my dress and personal needs put outside of my bag and my bag put in X-Ray Machine again… in 2 or 3 times… I and Indonesian men go to the office, he said he wants to check my bag again… I said ok you check my bag but he didn’t see anything … then the men said can I cut your bag…? i said why you cut my bag… only he said nothing… only I want to check your bag… so i answer again… Ok you can cut my bag .. because i believe don’t have anything inside my bag because I already check my bag!!! But when my bag cut.. the men see something inside the back of my bag.. a black plastic and inside the black plastic have Aluminum Foil… When I see the Aluminum Foil i ask the men what’s the problem? And he said to me nothing. Then he said to me we go to another office /another place.. untill that time I’m not thinking negative but when im there inside the another office. The Aluminum Foil open and inside the Aluminum Foil have a powder the color is a lightbrown… the men check the powder… then the powder change to become solid! The men said.. you know this? I answer I don’t know what s that?? All laughing he said this is kind of Drugs a Heroin… Oh my God !!! my body feel so cold… I cant speak any thing… only I can do that time… cry and cry!!! Because I know my life finish!!! Because drugs is no.1 Illegal… I hate my self why. I belive with Christine… why I don’t have negative thingking about her… and now im here.. but I don’t know anything…
There is no way of knowing how true her story is but it seems equally valid to say there is no evidence that she is lying; certainly the drugs were not visible to her and it is certainly conceivable that she did not know they were there.
In a dramatic last minute development, the woman Mary Jane named as her recruiter surrendered to the Philippine police because she said she was receiving death threats which would be carried out if the execution went ahead. As a result of this very last minute development, the Indonesian authorities gave Mary Jane an 11th hour (literally) temporary reprieve while the Philippine police investigate.
It is sad to see that Indonesia was so close to executing someone who appears to be an innocent victim of a drug syndicate. This is one of the reasons Amnesty International, and many others, are so strongly opposed to the death penalty. There is no way to fix any mistakes after the sentence is carried out.
Given her limited education and desperate need for money she was an ideal candidate for recruitment. It is very hard to see how anyone, with an ounce of compassion, could read this story and feel she deserved to be executed.
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