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Indonesian executions risk 'innocents'

AAP logoAAP 27/07/2016 Lauren Farrow and Heru Rahadi

When Humphrey "Jeff" Ejike Eleweke was told of his impending execution by Indonesian officials this week, he refused to sign the notification.

For almost 13 years the 43-year-old has staunchly maintained his innocence.

His lawyer Ricky Gunawan says he is another victim of the country's "corrupted" and "broken" legal system, which is at risk of shooting innocent people in the next round of executions, feared to take place this week.

In August 2003, police arrested Eleweke for possessing drugs, after they found 1.7kg of heroin in a room used by one of his employees at his Jakarta restaurant.

The Nigerian national had no lawyer during his arrest, interrogation or the first five months of detention.

Nor did he have an interpreter, Mr Gunawan told AAP.

The comments at trial also raise questions about the impartiality of the judges, who stated "black-skinned people from Nigeria" were generally under surveillance for suspected drug trafficking.

Subsequent evidence submitted to court on appeal in which prisoners say they witnessed another man admit to the crime that Eleweke was incarcerated for was also rejected, Mr Gunawan said.

When trying appeal cases like Eleweke's, Mr Gunawan explained how lawyers are confronted by numerous hurdles.

Unlike in Australia where courts keep meticulous records, including transcripts of what is said at trial, in Indonesia lawyers often need to start from scratch.

There are no recordings of what is said in court and if police have not kept documents, little to go on from the original investigation.

"Without proper safeguards the ultimate consequence is the loss of innocent lives," Mr Gunawan argued.

Serious questions have also been raised about the validity of the case against another death row drug convict Zulfiqar Ali, a Pakistani national and textile worker who, like Eleweke, alleges he was beaten in custody.

During his pre-trial detention, he was not allowed to contact his embassy or given access to a lawyer until approximately one month after his arrest, Amnesty International notes.

It has also been revealed that former director-general of human rights in the ministry of law, Hafid Abbas, made a recommendation more than a decade ago to then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that Ali should be pardoned.

"He's a good man ... He was picked up by his friend who had drugs and he didn't know about this... He's not the dealer, he's just a victim," Mr Abbas told AAP on Wednesday.

It is feared the men will be among at least 14 people to face a firing squad at Nusakambangan island prison in Central Java this week, the same site where Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed along with six others in April last year.

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