BRAZILIAN SURFER Marco Archer Moreira – nicknamed Curumin – and well known to many people in Bali and Rio for his extrovert nature and crazy sense of humour – is expected to be executed on Sunday – the first westerner ever to be shot by the 12-sniper-firing squad in Indonesia.
(UPDATE:Marco was shot dead in the early hours of Sunday January 18 2015)
On the Wednesday night Marco was taken from his prison cell at Indonesia’s Super Maximum Security (SMS) prison on Nusa Kambangan Island and transferred to an isolation cell to prepare him for his execution.
Curumin – the little Indian boy – was stopped in 2003 with 13.7 kilos of cocaine in his hang glider frame at Jakarta Airport, en route to Bali. Dramatically, he fled the airport when customs officers walked off to get a tool to cut open the aluminum glider frame. He escaped the airport – first running, riding on a motorbike, taking a bus and then by boat – and spent two weeks on the run, island hoping between Bali, Lombok and others before being hunted down and captured by armed police as he stood on an empty beach at sunrise, waving down a boat full of armed police which he mistakenly thought was a fishing boat coming to his rescue. His arrest was on the nature reserve island of Moyo, right next to the six star Aman Resort – a place Marco had once stayed as a guest.
The following year – In 2004 he was sentenced to death.
He has spent more than ten years living with the shadow of death looming. I spent quite a bit of time with Marco while working on my book “Snowing in Bali” and he somehow remained upbeat and positive. He is big-hearted, very, very funny and a great cook. While visiting the island prison he cooked me the most amazing steak and lasagna lunch one day, proud of his cooking skills he’d learnt in Switzerland. His personality is huge and those who got to know him in the prison, generally loved him. An Italian ex-prisoner who spent several years in jail with Marco first contacted me with the news of Marco’s pending execution this week, saying he can’t stop crying. Marco has many long-term, loyal friends, particularly hang gliding professionals in Rio who he flew with years ago, who are shattered by this latest news.
I don’t condone what Marco did but shooting him is barbaric. I think he and his friends in Rio always truly believed the Brazilian Government would step in and help have him extradited back to Brazil to serve his sentence there, given Brazil is against the death penalty. But sadly it now looks like time has run out for any political manoeuvres.
It bodes badly for other westerners on death row In Bali’s Kerobokan Prison where there are two Australians and a 57-year-old British woman Lindsay Sandiford who have all exhausted their appeals. This news will not be a jolt for them. Hopefully, Marco will somehow get a last minute reprieve. But the clock is ticking fast.