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Jakarta warned of ‘consequences’ if Frenchman executed

AFP | Serge Atlaoui at his appeal hearing at Indonesia's Supreme Court in March 2015

France’s ambassador to Jakarta warned Indonesia Friday that there would be “consequences” if a Frenchman on death row for drug charges is executed.

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"If the execution is carried out, it will not be without consequence for our bilateral relationship," ambassador Corinne Breuze told reporters, adding that France, which abolished the death penalty in 1981, was opposed to capital punishment in all circumstances.

Serge Atlaoui, 51, was arrested near Jakarta in 2005 at a secret laboratory producing ecstasy. He was sentenced to death two years later.

Imprisoned in Indonesia for a decade, the father-of-four has always denied the charges. He insists he was installing industrial machinery at what he thought was an acrylics factory.

He has appealed his case before Indonesia’s Supreme Court, and a verdict is expected imminently.

If it is rejected, his execution and that of other foreigners – including citizens from Australia, Brazil, Philippines, Ghana, Nigeria – could follow soon after.

The Indonesian government has already compiled a list of prisoners set to face the firing squad after conducting a round of executions in January, the first since 2013. Atlaoui’s name is on that list.

But "what appears shocking to us is that our compatriot is the only one on the list to be executed", said the ambassador.

"I recall Serge Atlaoui was convicted as a chemist, when he was a solderer with a minor role in this affair," she said, adding the French government was "prepared to assist Indonesia in its fight against drug trafficking".

Drug laws in Indonesia are among the toughest in the world.

President Joko Widodo, who took office in October, has rejected all requests for clemency from drug dealers sentenced to death, claiming the country is facing a narcotics emergency.

But at the same time, Indonesia has been actively trying to save its citizens on death row abroad and this week Jakarta protested the execution of two Indonesian women in Saudi Arabia.

Atlaoui's wife Sabine has pleaded with the president, saying her husband did not deserve to die and her family had been living through "psychological torture".

"A member of the prosecutor's office has already asked us for my husband's measurements for his future coffin, which is unimaginable and inconceivable given the situation we are in," she said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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