Three Indonesian Christians executed over Muslim killings: lawyer

Three Indonesian Christians who were on death row for inciting violence against Muslims in 2000 have been executed by firing squad, their lawyer told AFP.

"They have been executed. Their bodies are now undergoing an autopsy at the police hospital," lawyer Roy Rening said.

Rening said he was informed of the executions of Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marianus Riwu by the prosecutors office in Palu, the capital of religiously-divided Central Sulawesi province, where the men were being held.

Authorities typically do not inform the public of executions, which are held at undisclosed locations, until several hours after an autopsy is completed.

Rening added that he refused to be present at the deaths to protest a rejection by the state of their last demands, including that their bodies be flown back to their home towns or laid in wake at Palu's main Catholic church.

He was unable to give further details about the precise time of the death, but a flurry of activity had occurred around midnight local time (1800 GMT) at the tightly-guarded jail.

The case of the trio has raised fears of sectarian violence flaring again in Central Sulawesi, where more than 1,000 people lost their lives in 2000-01 as Muslims and Christians clashed.

Thousands of security forces had fanned out across the province in anticipation of the executions, which had been initially scheduled for last month.

But authorities granted a last-minute stay of execution -- even after the men's coffins had been prepared -- shortly after Pope Benedict XVI issued a plea for clemency, though a link was denied.

According to Amnesty international, which had raised questions about the fairness of the men's 2001 trial, the most recent previous execution in Indonesia was in May 2005.

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