Witness to Utrecht man's execution speaks out

ang kiem soei
Dutch citizen Ang Kiem Soei, executed on Jan. 18, 2015 in IndonesiaDutch citizen Ang Kiem Soei, executed on Jan. 18, 2015 in Indonesia

Bart Stapert, lawyer of executed Dutchman in Indonesia tells the story of his is client, only hours after the execution. Papua-born Dutch citizen Ang Kiem Soei, 62, received a death sentence in 2003 for allegedly producing ecstasy in an Indonesian drug lab.

The Dutch government could not convince the Indonesian authorities to give up on the sentence, despite intense lobbying efforts from King Willem-Alexander, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Foreign Minister Bert Koenders. Soei was executed with five other drug offenders from Brazil, Malawi, Indonesia, Nigeria and Vietnam by a firing squad. This was the first execution under the new President Joko Widodo.

Stapert describes waiting for the sound of the firing squad's gunshots as the "most difficult moment".

The convicts were allowed to choose wether they wanted to face the firing squad or turn their backs at the shooters. The inmates could have requested for a blindfold as well, Stapert says in an interview with Trouw. Soei's wish was to face the shooters without a blindfold.

"Very loud. It sounded like one shot," Stapert says. "You knew then that it has happened."

A few hours before his client's execution, the Indonesian authorities denied Stapert's access to the prison grounds. Shortly after however, the Dutch embassy arranged Stapert to say goodbye to his client for the last time.

Ang Kiem Soei was ready to die, his lawyer states.

"There was this certain serenity in him. A big part of it went past him. The prison ground was a big mess and everyone was nervous. He was at peace with it. He was ready to die."

Stapert has lost a client before in the 1990s in Virginia, US. His client, Ronnie Hoke, was on death row for ten years after convicted of murder. Hoke was given a lethal injection in 1996.

“With Ronnie Hoke, I remember the click as the IV started running,” Stapert points out after hearing the shots fired at Soei. “It is the moment that you know, now it is over.”

It became clear in a personal conversation between the Vice President of Indonesia and a Dutch diplomat earlier on the same afternoon, that the killings would happen in any case.