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Last Updated: Friday, 11 August 2006, 20:59 GMT 21:59 UK
Indonesia executions put on hold
Christian protesters in Jakarta, 11/8/06
Protests were also staged in the capital, Jakarta
Indonesian officials have delayed the execution of three Christians sentenced to death for attacking Muslims.

The three were due to be executed by firing squad early on Saturday, but were given a last-minute reprieve after an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI.

They were sentenced for inciting attacks during religious rioting in Central Sulawesi in 2000.

Officials said the executions were being delayed until after celebrations to mark Indonesia's independence day.

The country's police chief Sutanto said the delay in carrying out the executions was "just a matter of timing".

The three men would be executed after the 17 August festivities, he added.

The stay of execution was granted after the Vatican delivered an appeal for clemency to the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

There was no comment from the president's office about the decision to delay the executions.


Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu were convicted of masterminding a series of attacks on the Muslim community in the central Sulawesi district of Poso in 2000.

The men, who say they are innocent, had their final appeal rejected by Indonesia's president last year.

Map of Indonesia
Previously known as Celebes, Sulawesi is Indonesia's fourth largest island
80% of residents are Muslim, while 17% are Christian
A December 1998 brawl in Poso led to months of religious violence in which hundreds died
Sulawesi province has a long history of violence between Muslim and Christians.

More than 1,000 people are believed to have been killed during two years of violence triggered by a brawl between Christian and Muslim gangs in December 1998.

On Thursday, thousands of Christians in the town of Tentena demonstrated against the execution.

"Tibo, Dominggus and Marinus do not deserve to be executed because they are not the main culprits," Christian leader Rinaldy Damanik told the crowd.

The European Union also warned that the executions could harm the "fragile equilibrium that exists between different ethnic and religious groups".

"Whatever happens, we cannot accept their executions," the Associated Press news agency quoted him as saying.

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