– ‘Like a resurrection’ –
Owen Pomana, a former convict turned pastor and friend of Australian convicts Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, tried to buoy the spirits of those dwelling on the fate of the prisoners.
“Fear not, they have nothing to fear!” he declared of the condemned inmates.
Moments later, the eight inmates were dead, executed by 12-man firing squads after being tied to posts.
Just before dawn, their bodies returned from the island in coffins, some covered in embroidery.
Family members could be seen crying, ushered away by friends and supporters to begin the long journey to bury their loved ones.
Angelita Muxfeldt, the cousin of Brazilian inmate Rodrigo Gularte, wept as she was led through the large throng of onlookers by Father Charlie Burrows.
But others shed tears of joy. The family and friends of Filipina convict Mary Jane Velos – who was moments away from being executed with the others only to be granted a reprieve – rushed to the port to embrace and express their disbelief.
Father Harold Toledano, a Filipino priest assisting the Veloso family throughout their plight, had been praying when he heard the good news.
“This is a miracle for us,” he cried, as Veloso’s lawyers and supporters celebrated. “It’s like a resurrection for us. She is alive.”
For the Chan and Sukumaran families, there was no such solace. They had lost their sons, their brothers, after begging for their lives to be spared at every possible opportunity.
“They asked for mercy, but there was none,” the family said in a statement after the executions.
They will bury their loved ones soon, but won’t be the first.
Barely had the dust settled at Cilacap port when Zainal Abidin – the sole Indonesian prisoner among the group – was laid to rest at a nearby graveyard.