Who Is Mary Jane Veloso, The Woman In Indonesia Whose Execution Has Been Delayed?

Eight drug trafficking convicts from around the world have been executed in Indonesia. Mary Jane Veloso would have been among them, but her execution has been delayed after public outcry, including pleas from Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, as well as a surprise surrender from alleged recruiter Maria Kristina Sergio. Veloso was originally arrested for drug smuggling after it was discovered that $500,000 worth of heroin had been hidden in the lining of her suitcase upon arriving in Indonesia.

Veloso came to Indonesia for employment as a domestic worker, and it was Sergio who'd allegedly set her up with the job, though Indonesia was not originally where the two intended to go. The youngest daughter of impoverished parents from the Philippine province of Nueva Ecija, Veloso had taken jobs outside the country as a means to make a better life for her own family. She'd taken to collecting trash in her youth to help make ends meet and cut her high school education short after just one year to marry and have children, all of whom stayed back in the Philippines while she worked.

Veloso worked as a household service worker in Dubai in 2009 but left before her two-year contract was up because her Emirates employer allegedly attempted to rape her, according to Veloso's case profile from Migrante International, who is representing her in Indonesia. She returned to Manila in 2010 and began once again seeking employment. Shortly after returning, Sergio told her about an opportunity to do some domestic work in Malaysia. Sergio was paid 20,000 Philippine pesos, or just over $452, a motorcycle, and a cell phone for illegally recruiting Veloso, so says Migrante International.


It isn't clear whether or not there was ever a job waiting in Malaysia for Veloso. After flying to Malaysia, Veloso spent three days in the country with Sergio and received brand new clothes as well as a new suitcase. Sergio then said that a job had opened up in Indonesia and even offered to cover Veloso's flight costs, something the domestic worker otherwise couldn't afford. Soon, the two were off to Indonesia. Veloso's luggage triggered alarms upon arrival, and it was discovered that 2.6 grams of heroin had been hidden in the lining of her suitcase. Veloso claims she had no idea and continues to maintain her innocence.

Sergio had no arrest warrant issued against her when she turned herself in Tuesday morning, though she claimed she had been receiving death threats and was seeking protection. According to Al Jazeera, four Nigerians, two Australians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian were executed by firing squad on the prison island of Nusakambangan. Only one other person has been granted a temporary reprieve besides Veloso: French citizen Serge Atlaoui is currently appealing his conviction. Veloso's family, including her two children, were awoken as they were en route to see her in Indonesia and notified that her execution had been delayed. Though it's unclear what the future holds for Veloso, her family is overjoyed.

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