By Finn Bunting
On April 29, the Indonesia government’s stark anti-drugs policy reached a grisly conclusion as eight convicted drug smugglers were executed by firing squad on the Nusakambangan prison island of Indonesia.
Their names were Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (both Australian), Zainal Abidin (Indonesian), Rodrigo Gularte (Brazilian), and Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami, Okwudili Oyatanze and Martin Anderson (all of Nigeria).
The case received widespread condemnation and many last-ditch pleas by the families of the men. One woman, Filipino Mary Jane Veloso was spared at the last moment allegedly due to new developments in her case.
Brazilian Gularte, 42, sentenced to death for smuggling 6kg of cocaine inside surfboards had been diagnosed with acute paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
According to family he spent most of his time in prison talking to walls, imagining ghosts or hearing voices.
It has been alleged that Gularte did not understand his death sentence up until his final minutes. This is in contravention of international law which states that the accused must be aware of their punishment.
Father Charlie Burrows, the Irish priest appointed as Gularte's spiritual advisor, spoke to the Brazilian for an hour and a half late into the night in an attempt to prepare him for the executions.
Tragically, Burrows said Gularte remained confused: “He asked if there was a sniper outside ready to shoot him, and I said no, and whether somebody would shoot him in the car, and I said no”.
Gularte was born into a wealthy Brazilian family and had been a keen surfer until his life spiralled into drug addiction and mental illness.
Prior to his execution, he was strapped to a wooden plank, and Burrows was allowed to spend some final moments with him. “This is not right, I made one small mistake, and I shouldn’t have to die for it,” the Brazilian is alleged to have said.
Burrows said he had tried to reassure Gularte “I’m 72 years old, I’ll be heading to heaven in the near future, so you find out where my house is and prepare a garden for me.”
Todung Mulya Lubis, a lawyer for one of the executed men, tweeted his apologies. "I failed. I lost," he said. "I'm sorry.”