The Last Three Days with Rodrigo Gularte, Part I

In April, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was executed by firing squad in Indonesia for smuggling 6kg of cocaine. The attention of readers in Ireland and the UK may have been drawn to the event due to the involvement of Fr Charlie Burrows, an Irish priest who ministers to prisoners in Chilachap. Burrows gave media interviews explaining that Gularte was not aware he was going to die until minutes before his execution.

Christina Widiantarti, one of the lawyers working on Gularte’s case, now shares on this blog some of her reflections on how she met Gularte, and the last three days before his death. It is powerful writing, which offers a rare glimpse into the emotion and the tragedy around this event. I will be posting Widiantarti’s reflections in instalments over the next few days.

The Last Three Days with Rodrigo Gularte by Christina Widiantarti,

Part I

My first meeting with Rodrigo Gularte – a Brazilian  citizen who had been held prison inmate in Pasir Putih Penitentiary, Nusakambangan, took place in the middle of February 2009 when I attended the ministry led by Father Carolus, OMI. At that time we introduced ourselves to each other. Rodrigo was very polite and humble and he was the youngest of all convicts in the Chapel – the place of praying for the Catholic and Christian convicts in the penitentiary.

In the following months, during my attendance in the ministry provided by Father Carolus, OMI – every Wednesday on the third week of a month – I started see an abnormality within Rodrigo. I had been accustomed to the abnormality since then. Most of the time  I saw him speaking to the wall next to him both before and after the Mass. However, when I greeted him, Rodrigo was very communicative, polite and full of smiles. Whenever I finished my communication with him and whenever I saw him muttering alone, I always prayed for him, “Lord, please have mercy on him and please protect him always in the Pasir Putih Penitentiary because he suffered so much from his condition. Amen.”

The introduction to Rodrigo had brought me to meet his family, namely his mother and his sister, Adriana, when they visited Rodrigo in the Pasir Putih Penitentiary. We managed to take pictures inside the Chapel, of course by the permission of Pasir Putih Penitentiary officers, because there was a gathering at that time.

Finally, in the beginning of February 2015 I started to befriend his cousin, Angelita Aparecida Muxfeldt,  also known as Angelita, precisely after we found that Rodrigo had been in the list of 10 convicts who would be given death penalty (putting a condemned person to death).

My relationship with Angelita encouraged me to be one of the Lawyer Team members for the Rodrigo Gularte. I had the permission to be one of his lawyers from Angelita herself, right after she had withdrawn the Power of Attorney from the previous lawyer. The Power of Attorney had been given under the agreement made by both the Lawyers Team and Angelita in March, 12th, 2015.

As one of the lawyers for Rodrigo, it happened that I stayed in Cilacap so it had been easy for me to pay a visit for Rodrigo. Every Tuesday and Thursday I and Angelita visited Rodrigo in the Pasir Putih Penitentiary, Nusakambangan. We could only meet him around 11:00 AM because we had several security checks from the Wijayapura Harbor until the Pasir Putih Penitentiary. Together with Angelita, we started our hard work to free Rodrigo from the second term execution.

Sadness, fear and intensity had been experienced by the family of the 10 convicts who had been put into the list of second term executions.

We (the team of lawyers, Angelita and the representatives of the Embassy of Republic  of Brazil) had conducted many advocacy efforts since the Republic of Indonesia  Attorney General announced the names of the convicts that would be executed in the second term.

One of the strong evidence that we attained from Rodrigo’s family (Angelita) and that we could use in our advocacy efforts was the results of psychiatric examination performed by a team of doctors from the Cilacap Regional Hospital (dr. Sri Rahayu Hartini, Sp.KJ and Prof. Dr. dr. H, Soewadi, MPH, SpKJ). The results of psychiatric examination in February 10th, 2015 09:00 AM toward Rodrigo Gularte (42 years old) in the Polyclinic of Pasir Putih Penitentiary stated that the patient expressed the symptoms of chronic mental disorder with the diagnosis of Schizophrenia Paranoid and DD: bipolar disorder with psychotic symptoms had  any cogent evidence.  Then, a team of psychiatrists suggested that Rodrigo should attain immediate treatment and intensive medication in an asylum. The strong evidence was also supported by the other evidence from Brazil and this evidence was afforded by Rodrigo’s family.

Our first advocacy strategy was to propose a Guardianship Petition for Rodrigo in the Cilacap State Court. In this strategy, Angelita as the applicant’s guardianship for Rodrigo because she knew that Rodrigo suffered from the mental disorder since he was young. Our proposal had been accepted and would be put into trial on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015. In addition, we had also proposed for the second clemency and for the judicial review toward the Presidential Decree of Republic Indonesia Number 5/G Year 2015.

We had informed all of these law efforts to the Attorney General order that the second-term execution would be postponed because the Attorney General should appreciate the law actions taken by Rodrigo’s family.

Unfortunately, the Attorney General did not appreciate these law efforts and they still proceeded the second-term execution to the 10 convicts and the second-term execution would be announced to the public officially in April 2015. The name of Rodrigo Gularte did exist in the list of 10 convicts that would be executed and the 10 convicts would be executed immediately in Nusakambangan.

Now, the time had come for the Attorney General to announce the notification toward the 10 convicts. On Friday, April 24th, 2015, at first I and Angelita altogether with the team of lawyers would like to meet Prof. Soewadi in Yogyakarta because we would like him to be the key witness for our guardianship petition at the Cilacap State Court. However, we postponed the meeting because the Embassy of Republic of Brazil had been informed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Indonesia that the Embassy should go to Cilacap in order to accompany Rodrigo Gularte and his family. To Angelita, the representative of the Embassy (Mr. Leonardo M.) stated that the process would be similar to the execution of Marco in the first term (at the end of January 2015).

Dissapointment, fear, confusion and panic had been overwhelming Angelita and the representative of the Embassy of Republic of Brazil as well as the team of lawyers since Thursday night, April 23rd, 2015.

Saturday, April 25th, 2015, was the unforgettable day in our day and was the hardest day of my life as a lawyer.

Christina Widiantarti’s reflections will continue in the next post with her description of the events of 25 April.



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