Filipina maid Mary Jane Veloso was saved from the firing squad in Indonesia at the eleventh hour after her alleged human trafficker surrendered on the day of her execution.
Veloso, who was escaping a desperately poor life in the Philippines, was arrested in 2010 in Yogyakarta with 2.6 kilograms of heroin in the lining of her suitcase.
The mother of two has always maintained her innocence and insisted she was duped into smuggling the drugs by an acquaintance who had bought her new clothes and the suitcase.
She had been told there was a job for her as a domestic helper in Indonesia.
The dramatic intervention came after Veloso’s recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio, reportedly surrendered to authorities in the Philippines on April 28, the day Veloso was due to be executed.
News website Rappler reported the National Bureau of Investigation had earlier filed illegal recruitment and human trafficking charges against Sergio and two others in connection with Veloso’s case.
Attorney General spokesman Tony Spontana said Veloso’s execution had been postponed because of the Philippine President’s request in connection with the human trafficking suspect surrendering herself in the Philippines.
He said Veloso would need to give evidence in court.
Her lawyer, Ally Edre Olalia, said she was hopeful Veloso would be exonerated.
“We believe that proving the human trafficking case in the Philippines will in effect prove her innocence,” he said.
President of the Phillipines, Benigno Aquino III, spoke to Indonesian President Joko Widodo over the weekend at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Malaysia in a last-ditch attempt to win clemency for Veloso.
However, as late as Tuesday afternoon Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo insisted there would be no postponement to her execution.
“If there was an indication that she was a victim of human trafficking that should have been revealed from the beginning,” he said.
So adamant were Veloso’s family that she would be killed they were on their way to Jakarta to pick up the body.
When they learned of her reprieve they were so overjoyed they stopped the bus.
Veloso’s plight captured the sympathy of Indonesians still reeling over the beheadings of two Indonesian maids in Saudi Arabia. The hashtag #savemaryjane trended on Twitter in Indonesia and many local celebrities pleaded for her life to be spared.