Veloso's execution suspended

CNN video: Why was Mary Jane Veloso spared execution?

(CNN Philippines) – Mary Jane Veloso's execution by an Indonesian firing squad was delayed at the last minute early Wednesday morning (April 29), her lawyer Ed Olalia confirmed to CNN Philippines just minutes after the news broke.

Olalia cited the latest development in the Philippines as the reason behind the suspension of Veloso's execution, who was sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug trafficking.

"As far as Mary Jane is concerned, her life has been spared for the moment and the reason is that the legal proceedings in the Philippines must be respected first in view of the fact that the illegal recruiter is now in custody," he said. 

Maria Kristina Sergio, Veloso's alleged recruiter, surrendered to authorities Tuesday morning (April 28) and is facing charges of illegal recruitment, human trafficking, and estafa.

A spokesman for the Attorney General's Office earlier said the delay came in response to a request from Manila after the alleged illegal recruiter gave herself up.

President Benigno Aquino III said on Tuesday that he had made one last appeal to the Indonesian government to spare Veloso, arguing that she could be a vital witness in prosecuting drug syndicates.

"The execution of Mary Jane (Veloso) has been postponed because there was a request from the Philippine president related to a perpetrator suspected of human trafficking who surrendered herself in the Philippines," said Tony Spontana, spokesman for the attorney general.

"Mary Jane has been asked to testify."

The 30-year-old Veloso, a mother of two, was arrested in 2010 after she arrived in Indonesia with 2.6 kg of heroin hidden in her suitcase.

Related: Who is Mary Jane Veloso?

Unexpected reprieve

Veloso's suspension was unexpected as the attorney general was still saying at around 11 p.m. Tuesday that nine people would be executed, Veloso included.

Even Veloso’s family and legal counsels were obviously unaware of the eventual reprieve as they traveled over to Nusa Kambangan – a maximum high-security prison in Central Java, Indonesia, also known as “execution island” – late Tuesday night to take legal custody of Mary Jane's body.

"Masayang-masaya po kami ngayon buong pamilya kasi papunta na po kami ng Jakarta, eh. Nandun na po kami sa may gasolinahan nahabol po kami dito, at ibinalita po na hindi po natuloy 'yung bitay sa anak ko kaya masayang-masaya po kami buong pamilya ngayon," said Celia Veloso, Mary Jane's mother.

[Translation: We are very, very happy, the whole family. We were on our way back to Jakarta, at the gasoline station, when we heard the news that Mary Jane's execution did not push through that's why we're very happy right now.]

People holding a vigil outside the Indonesian embassy in Manila cheered and clapped on hearing the news.

Veloso, along with eight other drug-trafficking convicts, was set to be executed by firing squad shortly after midnight. They were Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami, and Okwudili Oyatanze, and Ghanaian Martin Anderson.

Related: Mary Jane Veloso writes letters from the death row

Reuters contributed to this report.