April 30, 2015 / 9:43 AM / 4 years ago

Philippines may seek clemency anew for drug convict in Indonesia

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines may renew its appeal for clemency for a Filipina drug convict granted a temporary reprieve from a death sentence in Indonesia, depending on the outcome of a related human trafficking case, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

A protester holds a placard calling for justice for Filipina drug convict Mary Jane Veloso during a protest outside the presidential palace in Manila April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco - RTX1AR7W

Mary Jane Veloso, 30, was spared from the firing squad after officials in Manila asked Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo to allow her to give evidence to an investigation into the network that allegedly recruited her.

“Everything will depend on the outcome of the investigation and its conclusion, which will help determine and identify those responsible in drug trafficking and human smuggling,” foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose told a news conference.

“If we are able to file charges and convict them and establish that Mary Jane is a victim, that’s the time we could request again for clemency.”

Manila has sought clemency for Veloso twice, in 2010 and this month before her execution.

Widodo, who ignored appeals from Brazil and Australia when the execution of eight other drug convicts went ahead on Wednesday, has said the reprieve for Veloso was “not a cancellation but a postponement”.

But Philippine officials are hoping the developments in Manila will influence Indonesia to reconsider the death sentence.

Representatives from the Philippine embassy in Jakarta are due to meet Indonesian legal officials next week to find out terms and conditions of the reprieve granted to Veloso, Jose said.

One of Veloso’s lawyers said in Jakarta she would explore every legal avenue to win clemency.

“We are currently reviewing the postponement and we will take every possible step to get her death sentence canceled by the president,” said Agus Salim, declining to elaborate.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino told reporters he has asked the Justice Department to speed up the legal process to prosecute people responsible for Veloso’s situation, particularly her alleged recruiter, Maria Cristina Sergio.

Sergio, who has sought police protection after receiving death threats, denies she recruited Veloso and gave her a suitcase stuffed with drugs, her lawyer Precy Acosta said.

“There’s still no case against her, she is under police protective custody,” she said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Sergio was facing human trafficking, illegal recruitment and fraud complaints and it would take 60 days to complete the preliminary investigation.

Reporting by Manuel Mogato in Manila and Kanupriya Kapoor in Jakarta; Editing by Alex Richardson and Nick Macfie

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