The Last Three Days with Rodrigo Gularte, Part II

Yesterday was the beginning of a series of posts on this blog by Christina Widiantarti, who served on the team of lawyers for Rodrigo Gularte, a Brazilian who was executed in Indonesia in April. Gularte had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and did not understand his death sentence.

Today, in part II, Widiantarti describes the day they learned Gularte would be executed.

The Last Three Days with Rodrigo Gularte by Christina Widiantarti

Part II

Saturday, April 25th, 2015, was an unforgettable day and the hardest day of my life as a lawyer. Sadness and fear had been overwhelming all of us. The representatives of the Embassy of Republic of Brazil (2 people), Angelita and 5 lawyers from the team had gathered in the Dafam Hotel waiting for the invitation of Indonesian Attorney General. Then, we proceeded immediately to the Cilacap Attorney Office because the Attorney General would announce the notification of Exeution to the 10 convicts.

At 12:00 AM in that day all of us, including the embassy representatives, the families and the members of the lawyer teams from the 10 convicts, had been gathering in the Cilacap Attorney Office for hearing the announcement of the notification. It turned out that only one representative from the embassy and one from the lawyer team was allowed to enter the room for the announcement of the notification. Right at that time, Angelita asked me to be the representative of Rodrigo’s lawyer.

I was mentally unprepared because I had been suffering from the mental tensions and the external pressures since I became one of Rodrigo’s lawyers. However, due to the trust that Angelita had given to me since the first time we established our relationship, I had the courage to be the representative. To be honest, I actually expected Ricky as the coordinator of the lawyer team to be our representative. Before I entered the room, I came over to Angelita and said, “Angelita please pray for me, I am afraid,” and she replied, “Yes, of course Christina. I will pray for you, don’t cry Christina please….for Rodrigo. You have to be strong!” Then, we hugged each other just to brace ourselves. Later on, we still had to wait for two hours without any assurance when the Team of the Attorney General would come and announce the notification.

Finally at 14.00 or so, the team of Executioners accompanied by the Staff from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the other authorized state officers entered the room and announced that:

  1. The notification of death penalty execution would be declared on this day (Saturday, April 25th, 2015) directly to the 10 convicts in the Besi Penitentiary and each of the 10 convicts would only be accompanied by one representative of the Embassy and one of the Lawyers. The family of each convict might not accompany them. Therefore, all of us should proceed directly to the Besi Penitentiary.
  2. The family would be provided with a special occasion in order to meet the convicts after the notification had been accepted.
  3. The parties that had been given authorization in point number 1 should immediately report their name to the related officers. Special transportation would be provided under the strict protection of the Grand Judiciary and the Police Department.

At 15:30 we left the Cilacap Attorney Office to the Besi Penitentiary, Nusakambangan, by means of our own vehicle because the coordination instructed by the Cilacap Grand Judiciary. Once again Angelita hugged me while we were on our way to the guarding station and she whispered the following words, “Don’t cry Christina and be strong for Rodrigo. Okay?” However, I knew how hurt she was, just like what I had felt since the Wednesday night. I could not even say a word; instead, I nodded while I was holding myself not cry aloud. I felt my steps were heavy but I said to myself, “Christina, you have to be strong!!!” I (the representative of Lawyer team), Mr. Leonardo (the representative of Brazilian Embassy) and Mr. Lukman (the Embassy staff) – two staffs from the Embassy were allowed to accompany us to the Besi Penitentiary – arrived at the penitentiary in the evening around 16:30. It turned out that the notification was given one by one to each convict and we who accompanied Rodrigo had the last turn.

At 19:00, we were finally able to meet Rodrigo in a room that had been full of the officers from the Attorney General as the team of Executor. Then, on the other table there were Okuwdili Ayotanze (Dili) (who would be executed too) and his lawyer. The three of us and Rodrigo were directed to go to one table where there had been three officers from the Attornet General.

One of the executors delivered the notification strictly and immediately.

First, he clarified Rodrigo’s personal biodata. I gave immediately the letter saying that Rodrigo should be accompanied by Father Carolus, O.M.I as his spiritual companion since Rodrigo was a Catholic.

Then, the team of executors said, “Rodrigo, please listen to me carefully. We would like to inform that your clemency has been denied by the President of Republic of Indonesia under the Decree Number 5/G Year 2015. Therefore, the execution of your death penalty will be done in 3 days after the deliverance of the notification”.

Rodrigo said:

“This is a mistake, Sir, Ma’am! I won’t be executed! Several countries have been gathering around in order to talk about the death penalty and the death penalty has been declared to be inexistence in any country around the world, including Indonesia. So I won’t be executed. Drugs are usual things, just like liquors and cigarettes. The adults are free to decide whether they would like to consume them or not. I know, and all of you know, that there are more people who consume drugs in the same room.”

In the same time, one of the officers said, “We will arrest the drug dealer soon.” Unfortunately, Rodrigo became more upset and he said:

“This is a mistake. I just commit a single mistake but I should be prosecuted!”

Then, he turned to me and he said:

“Christina, help me!”

That was the time I felt I could not say anything and I started to have a big sense of feeling guilty. Because Rodrigo was talking consecutively, suddenly one of the officers reprimanded him, “Rodrigo, stop! Silence!” I rubbed Rodrigo’s back to calm him and Rodrigo stopped talking. One of the executors, whose body was big and stuffed, standing and strongly said (in bahasa):

“Ma’am, you are his lawyer, aren’t you? Please listen to my explanation and translate it to your client. His clemency has been denied by the President. As a result, whether he like it or not, Rodrigo shall be executed in 3 x 24 hour from tomorrow. Within 3 x 24 hour he will be given time to meet his family and he is allowed to propose the 4 last wishes. We will try to fulfill his wishes as far as we are able to facilitate them.”

When I translated the explanation, Rodrigo immediately replied:

“I understand Christina, but there is something wrong in the notification. I won’t say anything because I won’t be executed”.

Then, I said to the prosecutors, “Rodrigo has understood the notification, Sir, but he can’t accept it yet.” Once again, Rodrigo asked me while he was standing because he had been asked to return to the isolation, “Help me, Christina!” Before that, Rodrigo said to the prosecutors, “Sir, Ma’am, I’m terribly sorry for my being upset. I’m terribly sorry for that.” The prosecutors said, “Yes, Rodrigo, it’s not a big deal.”

I felt helpless and I wanted to pass out, but I had to be strong for Rodrigo. I had a little time to meet him before he was taken to the isolation and I said, “See you tomorrow Rodrigo, we will visit you again with Angelita.” He replied, “Yes, please. Help me, Christina.” It would be the last line from him before he spoke to Mr. Leonardo.

When I tried to strengthen myself from the sense of feeling guilty, because I would not be able to escape him from the death penalty 3 days later, one of the executors who wore glasses said:

“Mrs. Christina, please explain to Rodrigo once again that he should accept the notification and you should inform us the 4 last wishes that Rodrigo would like to propose. According to the regulation, we should provide Rodrigo’s will before the execution.”

While nodding, I said to myself, “Lord, please encourage Rodrigo and us.”

On the way home by bus from Besi Penitentiary to the Sodong Ferry, I cried all the time. Mr. Leonardo let me to cry out all the sadness and the dispair that I was experiencing because he knew that I would not cry in front of Angelita. Once in a while he supported me by tapping my shoulder.

In the next post, Widiantarti will describe the three days before the execution. 

One thought on “The Last Three Days with Rodrigo Gularte, Part II”

  1. It breaks my heart what Rodrigo and the others must have experienced. Rodrigo was clearly unwell and executing him will, one day I hope, result in a human rights crime. This vindication won’t bring him back but may help soothe his family. Christina, you may not have been able to prevent the execution but your evident capacity to care , hopefully will give you some solace.

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