Alleged Filipina drug mule in Indonesian death row

Indonesia — Convicted Filipina drug courier Mary Jane Veloso’s life is now in the hands of Indonesia’s Supreme Court.

The Sleman District Court in Yogyakarta on Wednesday, March 4, wrapped up a two-day hearing of her judicial review request, where lawyers for the 30-year-old mother of two argued that she wasn’t given a competent translator during her first trial, which ended in her being sentenced to death.

“After reviewing (the evidence), the panel of judges has concluded its report, and this will be sent immediately to the Supreme Court,” the lead judge said.

“It’s not a recommendation. The evidence can be accepted or rejected, it depends on the Supreme Court judge,” the spokes person of the panel of judges reportedly said.

If the Supreme Court accepts the evidence, a judicial review will be conducted.

Veloso was convicted in October 2010 of attempting to smuggle 2.6kg of heroin into Indonesia from Malaysia. But Veloso maintains she didn’t even know what was in the suitcases she was told to bring with her to Yogyakarta.

Immediate outcome

A Philippine embassy representative who was at the trial said “this is a positive development. This means Mary Jane shouldn’t be transferred to Nusakambangan for execution for now.”

Indonesia’s Attorney General has previously stated that a Philippine citizen was included in the next batch of 10 drug convicts to face the firing squad. Veloso is the only Philippine citizen on Indonesia’s death row.

But Veloso hasn’t exhausted all her legal options yet. The judicial review is the final one and is only granted if new evidence is presented. If the Supreme Court rejects it, she will be executed. Philippine embassy officials say the “outcome we hope for is a commutation of her sentence to anything lower than the death penalty.”

Incompetent interpreter

Veloso’s lawyers argued in court that she wasn’t able to properly defend herself during her 2010 trial because she could only communicate well in Tagalog but wasn’t given a competent translator.

The head of the College of Foreign Languages ??(STBA) LIA Yogyakarta, testified that the translator used was a only student at the time. As a result, Veloso did not understand what was said in the trial, which was conducted in Bahasa language, her lawyer said. Veloso’s lawyer at the time was a pro bono one provided by the court. Veloso comes from a poor family in Bulacan. She did not even complete high school. (Rappler.com)