By Ainur Rohmah
TUBAN, Indonesia (AA) – Indonesian officials reassured Tuesday that they would provide legal assistance to a migrant worker sentenced to death in Malaysia for drug trafficking, in hopes of sparing her from execution.
The National Agency for Placement and Protection of Indonesian Workers told Anadolu Agency that they are coordinating with Jakarta’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assist 28-year-old Rita Krisdianti, who they believe to have been a victim of an international syndicate.
"We are concerned and care about the fate of Rita Krisdianti. We will provide help as much as possible," its director of mediation and advocacy, R. Wisantoro, said in a statement.
On Monday, a court in the northwest Malaysian state of Penang sentenced Krisdianti to death by hanging for entering the country with four kilograms (8.8 pounds) of methamphetamine. She had been arrested in July 2013.
According to the Indonesian agency, Krisdianti was deceived by a drug syndicate and was unaware that a suitcase she was told to carry for “business purposes” contained illegal substances.
She had reportedly spent the earlier part of 2013 in Hong Kong unable to find employment, and had decided to return to Indonesia when a friend in Macau offered her a job in the textile sector.
Rather than receiving a ticket from Hong Kong to Macau, a trip that takes around an hour by ferry, Krisdianti was reportedly bought a plane ticket with layovers in India’s capital New Delhi and Penang.
In New Delhi, she allegedly picked up from a man a suitcase she was told contained garments that would be sold.
Upon her arrival at Penang Airport, however, police arrested her and found methamphetamine in the luggage.
Wisantoro said Tuesday that the Indonesian embassy in Malaysia is continuing to ensure Krisdianti’s legal rights throughout the judicial process, including through the representation of a lawyer.
The agency’s chief, Nusron Wahid, had earlier said that Indonesia’s government would appeal the court ruling.
"After an appeal, [we] hope she will be released and may not be put to death," kompas.com quoted him as saying Monday.
He underlined that they would lobby relevant parties in Malaysia, particularly the monarch.
"Because there [Malaysia], the party who has veto power against a sentence is the king," Wahid said, expressing optimism due to positive relations between the neighboring countries.
He added that no Indonesian migrant workers sentenced to death in Malaysia has ever been executed.
"So far, four or six citizens have been convicted. But, thank God, they’ve never been executed, all [the cases] have been resolved."
The coordinator of Indonesia’s Migrant Institute Crisis Center also said that Krisdianti’s case shows signs of her being a victim of an international drug syndicate.
"The facts show that Rita is an innocent courier,” kompas.com quoted Nursalim, who like many Indonesians uses one name, as saying Tuesday. “Seeing her vulnerable position, and how she was deceived by a syndicate, it would be unfair if she received the death penalty."
Based on data from Indonesia’s foreign ministry, 158 Indonesians in Malaysia are facing the death penalty, 60 percent of them related to narcotics cases.
More than 1,000 people are believed to be on death row in the archipelago, according to Human Rights Watch, which has accused Malaysia of not being transparent “about when and how decisions are made to carry out executions”.
Amnesty International said in a report released last month that least one execution was held last November in a murder case, and three Malaysian men were executed in March.