JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia executed a man convicted of killing 42 women and girls in a series of ritual slayings he believed would give him magical powers, his lawyer said Friday.
Ahmad Suradji, 57, was killed by firing squad late Thursday in western Indonesia despite a last minute appeal by Amnesty International, a U.K.-based human rights advocacy group that opposes capital punishment in all cases.
"He appeared resigned to his fate," said Attorney General Office's spokesman Bonaventura Nainggolan. "His final wish was to see his wife. We fulfilled this."
Suradji was arrested in May 1997 following the discovery of a body in a field close to this house in Lubukpakan, a village in North Sumatra province. Forty-one other corpses were later found nearby.
Police have said the victims came to Suradji because they believed he had supernatural powers. The victims were believed to have been seeking his help in making their husbands or boyfriends faithful, find a partner or get rich.
He lured them to the field and buried them up to the waist, telling them it was part of the ritual. He then strangled them and buried their bodies with the heads pointing toward his house.
He has told police he believed the 11-year killing spree would boost his magical powers.
Suradji's wife, Tumini, was also sentenced to death for assisting with the murders, but her sentence was later reduced to life in prison.
Belief in sorcery and the supernatural is common across Indonesia, especially in poor, rural areas where education levels are low.
Media reports said authorities were forced to cancel a plan to bury Suradji's body in a public cemetery because up to 100 relatives of his victims were waiting there, planning to disrupt the funeral.
As of Friday morning, his body remained at the morgue of a local hospital.
Indonesia resumed executions in June 2008 after a 14-month hiatus, when two Nigerians were put to death for drug trafficking.
Authorities do not release official statistics on the death penalty, but at least 112 people are known to be under death sentences in Indonesia. The time and place of executions are never made public before they occur.
According to Amnesty International, authorities are preparing to execute at least four other Indonesians. One of them is also a sorcerer, who was found guilty of killing 8 people. The other three are Islamic militants.