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Serge Atlaoui, on indonesian death row for 17 years

Sentenced to death since 2007 in Indonesia, Serge Atlaoui, a welder from Metz (France), has been living in fear of execution ever since. In October 2023, three members of ECPM’s team visited the Frenchman who continues his fight against his unjust conviction and never ceases to proclaim his innocence. He expressed his gratitude to his supporters around the world, emphasizing their importance in his quest for justice.

Serge Atlaoui, Raphaël Chenuil Hazan, Marie-Lina Pérez, Emilie Fournier, Dominique Roubert

Review of the facts

Serge Atlaoui arrived in Indonesia in September 2005 and was hired as a machine welder in an acrylic factory in Jakarta. He was arrested in November 2005, along with around thirty individuals, including one Dutchman and five Chinese, following a police raid on what was, in fact, a clandestine laboratory. Serge Atlaoui had never been informed of the intended illegal use of the machine on which he had been asked to work.

Convicted in 2006 to life imprisonment for drug trafficking by the lower Court and then on appeal, the case takes a radical turn when, in May 2007 following the appeal to the Supreme Court initiated by the prosecution, Serge Atlaoui was sentenced to the death penalty. The same fate awaited the Dutch national. Both were then imprisoned on the island of Nusakambangan, south of Java. His Dutch colleague died in custody. In January 2015, the newly elected Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, rejected the presidential pardon request filed by Serge Atlaoui. The general prosecutor confirmed that same day that he had established a list of eleven death row inmates without specifying who was concerned.

On April 21, the Supreme Court refused to review Serge Atlaoui’s trial, stating that there were no new elements. Two days later, “orders [were] given by the Indonesian authorities to prepare several executions including that of Serge Atlaoui” in the coming hours.

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, eight death row inmates were executed for drug trafficking. Two Australians (Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran), three Nigerians (Sylvester Nwolise, Okwudili Oyatanze and Raheem Salami), one Ghanaian (Martin Anderson), one Brazilian (Rodrigo Gularte), and one Indonesian (Zainal Abidin) were shot shortly after midnight.

The names of Serge Atlaoui and Mary Jane Veloso, from the Philippines, were withdrawn at the last minute from the list of executions. Officially, Serge Atlaoui obtained this reprieve thanks to a last administrative recourse filed on April 25 by his lawyer to challenge the rejection of his presidential pardon. The recourse was later on rejected by the Administrative Court of Jakarta.

Following several changes of places of detention, Serge Atlaoui is currently in Salemba Prison, Jakarta.

Death penalty in Indonesia

ECPM mobilization and campaign

In February 2015, ECPM initiated an international mobilization campaign to save Serge Atlaoui and death row prisoners in Indonesia. After a dual citizen rally organized in Paris and Metz on March 24, ECPM launched a donation appeal to cover the expenses related to the legal proceedings.

On April 25, 2015, a citizen rally took place at Beaubourg, joined by the Franco-Indonesian singer Anggun, very popular in Indonesia. She had written to President Joko Widodo imploring him to pardon Serge Atlaoui.

On the eve of the scheduled execution date, FC Metz footballers supported the campaign by wearing a “Together Let’s Save Serge Atlaoui” t-shirt before their match against Paris Saint-Germain, which was later taken up  by the Canal+ satirical programme «Les Guignols de l’info.”

FC Metz players warming up at the Parc des Princes. Credit : THOMAS SAMSON / AFP
Les joueurs du FC Metz ont arboré un t-shirt de soutien à Serge Atlaoui face au PSG (

On the media front, major national and regional media outlets covered the latest legal developments while highlighting the issues surrounding the death penalty in Asia and the rest of the world.

Political mobilization

Since its abolition in 1981, France has been opposed to the death penalty in all places and circumstances. As a matter of principle, it ensures that efforts are made through diplomatic channels to commute the sentences of its nationals sentenced to death.

The case of Serge Atlaoui has been addressed several times by French authorities with Indonesian authorities since January 2015, including at the highest levels.

Starting in April, France began to express publicly, through the voice of Corinne Breuzé, the French ambassador to Jakarta, that there would be “consequences” on bilateral relations with Indonesia if Serge Atlaoui were executed as planned.

On April 22, President François Hollande made an appeal to Indonesian authorities asking them not to proceed with the execution of Serge Atlaoui. Prime Minister Manuel Valls had already expressed his support for the Lorraine native on Twitter: “Defending Serge Atlaoui is to recall France’s firm opposition to the death penalty.” Laurent Fabius, on the other hand, mentioned “serious dysfunction in the Indonesian justice system”, in which Serge Atlaoui did not “benefit from the full exercise of his rights.”

For more information

10 questions to better understand the situation of Serge Atlaoui sentenced to death in Indonesia

France ‘doing everything to keep Serge Atlaoui alive’ on death row in Indonesia – Learn more

Indonesia rejects French death row convict Serge Atlaoui clemency – Learn more

Anggun : “Exécuter Serge Atlaoui est un meurtre” – Learn more