Three Catholics executed in Indonesia

 Three Indonesian Catholics who were on death row for inciting violence against Muslims in 2000, were executed by firing squad last night. Fabianus Tibo, Marianus Riwu and Dominggus Silva were found guilty of inciting attacks during religious rioting in Central Sulawesi in 2000. All three had repeatedly denied any involvement in the riots. Many church and human rights groups had campaigned for the men's reprieve and a reopening of the case. The execution was delayed last month after an appeal from Pope Benedict. Before the execution, the three men were not allowed to see a priest and receive the Sacraments. Father Tumbelaka, parish priest at Poso's Saint Therese Parish church who had been visiting them, was refused access to them by the Prosecutors Officers. The Office has also denied the church permission to take the bodies to a chapel of rest in Palu St Mary's Cathedral as they had requested. "I am deeply disappointed that the Prosecutor's Office rejected their demand to be confessed and receive the Sacraments one last time," he said. The decision violates Indonesian law which grants death row convicts the right to have their last wishes granted. Father Tumbelaka has celebrated Mass for the men's families. "There are no more tears in our family . . . we have lost the power to cry," said Robert Tibo, Fabianus's eldest son. In his last public statement, Robert's father, Fabianus, said he was "not afraid of dying." Instead, he said: "I am praying that my family be able to provide for themselves and forgive me for not being with them all these years." Local community leaders have expressed concern that the executions may re-ignite religious violence. Some 4,000 extra troops have been deployed in Sulawesi to boost security. Previously known as Celebes, Sulawesi is Indonesia's fourth largest island. 80% of residents are Muslim, while 17% are Christian.

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