Indonesia executions: Mary Jane Veloso's last-minute reprieve came too late for newspapers

Papers went to print saying she was executed but it had been called off

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The Independent Online

The shock reprieve for a woman due to be executed alongside Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan last night was too last-minute for newspapers in the Philippines to catch up.

Mary Jane Veloso was given a stay of execution just hours before she was due to face a firing squad alongside eight other prisoners on the feared Nusakambangan Island.

Successive appeals and diplomatic efforts had already failed and after vows from Indonesian officials that the death sentences would be carried out, the 30-year-old’s prospects looked bleak.

Some newspapers in the Philippines carried articles wrongly saying Mary Jane Veloso had been executed alongside eight foreign drug convicts in Indonesia on 29 April

After weeks of protests in the Philippines, people woke up this morning to a headline reading “Farewell, Mary Jane” on the black front page of Manila’s best-selling Filipino-language tabloid, Abante, according to a translation by AFP.

“All hopes fade” said the Manila Times, and the Manila Bulletin used separate headlines on successive editions saying “We’re hoping for a miracle” and “No delay in execution”.

The latest, correct, edition read: “Veloso granted reprieve”.

Other newspapers hit out at the government for failing to save Veloso and condemned Indonesia’s legal process.

Migrante International stages a prayer vigil rally to save Mary Jane Veloso

“Death Came Before Dawn” was the headline on the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s front page.

It featured a large photo of the smiling mother-of-two, saying “only a miracle” could have saved her.

That miracle came in the form of Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo, who said that the arrest of the woman who allegedly used her as a drug mule required her to be kept alive for evidence.

“This delay did not cancel the execution. We just want to give chance in relation with the legal process in the Philippines,” he said.

The woman who reportedly recruited Veloso, Maria Kristina Sergio, had surrendered to police in the Philippines on Monday, Deputy Police Director-General Leonardo Espina said.

Veloso was arrested in 2010 at the airport in the central Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, where officials discovered about 2.5 kilograms of heroin hidden in her luggage.

Her lawyers claimed she was duped into carrying it, hidden in the lining of a suitcase, by human traffickers who promised her a domestic job.

Veloso's mother, Celia, told Manila radio station DZBB from Indonesia that what happened was “a miracle.”

“We thought we've lost my daughter. I really thank God. What my daughter Mary Jane said earlier was true, 'If God wants me to live, even if just by a thread or just in the final minute, I will live,” she said.

Mary Jane Veloso taking part in a charity event in prison

“That's what she said and it became true. So I really thank God for this miracle that happened to my child.”

In Manila, the temporary reprieve sparked celebrations Manila, where about 250 people holding a candlelight vigil outside the Indonesian Embassy broke into applause after learning that Veloso had escaped death.

A spokesperson for the Philippines President thanked his Indonesian counterpart, Jokowi Widodo for giving due consideration to the legal appeals and expressed his hope that a wider criminal operation would be uncovered.

Two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian man were executed.

Additional reporting by agencies