The Last Three Days with Rodrigo Gularte – Part III

Today is the third and final post in a series on this blog by Christina Widiantarti, who served on the team of lawyers for Rodrigo Gularte, a Brazilian who was executed in Indonesia in April. Gularte had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and did not understand his death sentence.

Below, Widiantarti describes the last three days after she learned Gularte would be executed.

Read Part I here.

Read Part II here.

The Last Three Days with Rodrigo Gularte by Christina Widiantarti —

Part III

First Day

Sunday, April 26th, 2015, was the first day of visitation for Angelita after the notification of prosecution had been announced. The ones who visited Rodrigo were Mr. Leonardo, Angelita, Ricky and me. We were able to meet Rodrigo around 11:00 and were given a chance to stay until 15:00. All of the family members, the spiritual companion, the representatives of each embassy and the lawyer teams from the 9 convicts who would be executed started their meeting. We could sense a deep sadness, confusion, fear and tension from one to another.

Whenever I looked at Rodrigo’s face and Angelita’s face during our meeting and conversation, I had a deep sense of sorrow that I had not ever experienced before. Whenever I saw the smile on Rodrigo’s face, I had a strong sense of feeling guilty inside me.

Therefore, most of the time I looked down on the floor especially when my tears fell; after I encouraged myself, I could take a look at Rodrigo and Angelita. The executor from the last night’s meeting; he came to me and he explained once again that I should get the last four wishes from Rodrigo. I would like to say, “Demon/Satan you are, Sir!” However, I said,

“You should be patient a little bit more Sir. Rodrigo has a mental disorder, so we should be careful and be more patient.”

That afternoon, Rodrigo said that “Padang Rice” (Nasi Padang) was his favourite menu during his time in Pasir Putih Penitentiary.

Rodrigo asked Ricky and me as his lawyer to work hard for him next morning. Rodrigo said that we should not be in that room tomorrow and both of us should work hard for him. We informed him that we would do our best to help him out. Rodrigo thanked all of us who had been his lawyers and had been helping him.

Second Day

Monday, April 27th, 2015, was the second day of visitation. At this day, Angelita was the only one who visited Rodrigo. Meanwhile, we had coordination with the other lawyers in Jakarta as our team; we tried to have a hearing session with the Attorney General, Mr. M.Prasetyo and to propose a lawsuit to the National Court of Administration; we also committed other litigation efforts.

Mr. Leonardo and Father Carolus, O.M.I. [Irish priest Fr Charlie Burrows] as the spiritual companion visited Rodrigo at 13:00, accompanying Angelita who had come first. As the executor had said, Rodrigo was given a chance to have communication with his mother and his relatives in Brazil by means of telephone line provided by the Attorney General officer. This call had been considered as one of Rodrigo’s wishes that had been proposed by Angelita, his cousin. At the evening before Angelita, Father Carolus and Mr. Leonardo left the penitentiary, they should sign a statement saying that Rodrigo had been denied to be cremated and had asked to be sent back home to Brazil. This statement had been considered as another of Rodrigo’s last wishes. The reason was that Rodrigo would like to go home. He had been saying the same thing over and over when Angelita and I visited him in Pasir Putih Penitentiary.

Third Day

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015, was the third and last day of visitation. It was the last day to meet Rodrigo and also the other convicts. It would be the last meeting time for the convicts and the family members, the embassy representatives, the spiritual companions and the lawyer teams. In the last meeting, we were allowed to meet Rodrigo until 14:00. When Rodrigo showed up, he said,

“I am terribly sorry for bothering all of you: Angelita, Leonardo, Father Carolus and Christina and also the other members of the lawyer team.”

Almost altogether in the same time, we replied, “It’s not a big deal.” Then, Rodrigo told us about his dream; he said that he had a dream last night and in that dream he kept blaming himself. I looked at him all the time with an awareness that I would not see him alive tomorrow. Once in awhile, Rodrigo looked at me and suddenly he said, “Christina, I believe you must have been tired.” I replied, “Not at all, Rodrigo.” Then, while smiling Rodrigo replied, “Yes, you look very tired.”

I always remembered how he smiled and how he supported me. I would like to use this occasion to say something to him.

“Rodrigo, thank you very much. You are the best client I have ever met in my life. You taught me how I should remember the animals while I was eating some fruits.”

Rodrigo responded to me by nodding his head and smiling.

Just at the time when we had to leave, since our visitiation time had been over, we hugged Rodrigo and I could not even say a word. My eyes started watering and Rodrigo said, “Don’t cry, Christina. Thank you.”

A hysteria broke among the family members of the other nine convicts that would be prosecuted and this hysteria became a memory of sorrow that might be unfortgettable from anyone who stayed inside the Besi Penitentiary at that afternoon, including the executors.

Angelita hugged his beloved cousin while waiting for the call from the officers. Andrew Chan’s mother and relatives cried all the time and so did Myuran Sukumaran’s mother and sisters; their cry cut through my heart. Mary Jane even was mad at herself because she had not been informed that the visitation time would end at 14:00. I could not even see how terrible it was for her children since they were very young.

In order to encourage myself, I tried to have communication with the Lord, “Lord, if all the people who agreed with the death penalty stay in the land of Indonesia and witness and even experience the death penalty itself, they would demand that the death penalty would be deprived from this country.”

Before returning to Sodong, all of us waited for the very personal belongings of Rodrigo; these belongings would be transported by the officers from the Pasir Putih Penitentiary to the Besi Penitentiary. These belongings should be transported home because Angelita would like to do so.

We still had the deep sorrow once again because tonight from 20:00 until 00:35 Angelita, Mr. Leonardo and I should wait for the prosecution time in Sodong Ferry Harbour, Nusakambangan. We should wait for the moments of death penalty execution of nine convicts – who had been like our brothers and sisters.

Right at 24:00, we saw a line of cars which brought the convicts and their spiritual companions from far away and, due to the lights of the car, we could also see the dark space at the left side of the Police Station in Sodong. When the lights of the car went out, we lit up our candles. The numbers of the candles had been based on the numbers of convicts from the first term (January execution) and the second term.

All of us sat in front of the candles and we prayed according to our language and religion. I did the Rosary prayer while I was trying to encourage myself so that I would be able to face the worst thing.

30 minutes later, we heard several shots and, finally, we heard a single shot, “Bang!” All of us screamed altogether in the same time and we cried aloud while holding to each other’s hand.

I felt like I was about to pass out and I held Angelita in order to encourage myself. I could only say, “I am so sorry Angelita, I am so sorry.” Then, Angelita, within her cry, tried to encourage me. Because I was shocked, I could not listen to her words, then I prayed,

“Lord, please forgive me because I can’t help Rodrigo to escape from the shooting group.”

I kept saying the same thing over and over during the night. At that time, I imagined Rodrigo’s body who had fallen from the pole. I whispered this line to myself,

“Good bye Rodrigo, my beloved brother. You will enjoy the eternal happiness with our God in the heaven. Please pray for us, Rodrigo.”

I sensed deeper sorrow when finally around 4:00 the three of us (I, Angelita and Father Carolus) should see the dead body of Rodrigo Gularte inside the ambulance number 6, because we should make sure that the dead body was Rodrigo himself.

“My God and My Lord” was the only line that I could speak when I saw him. I could not see the smile that had been encouraging me all the time. “ Good bye Rodrigo, please Rest In Peace.”

The bitter experience has made me felt useless as a lawyer. In other words, I have totally failed to be a good lawyer for my client, someone who suffered from Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. I tried to help him out of the prosecution but he was finally shot in Nusakambangan.

Finally, I have been able to finish the article although I have exposed again the bitter sorrow that I experienced. Thanks a lot for the support and the trust from my lovely Angelita and Ayu (ELSAM) so that I have been able to finish the article.

Cilacap, July 7th, 2015

Christina Widiantarti, S.H.

Working for YSBS and JPIC-OMI in Indonesia

One thought on “The Last Three Days with Rodrigo Gularte – Part III”

  1. Humbling yet chilling account of the last days of a human being condemned to death, living within a totalitarian regime that considers the death penalty lawful. Rest in Peace Rodrigo. May God forgive your executioners.

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