Jakarta, Indonesia Indonesian officials issued a last-minute stay of execution Friday night for three Christian militiamen on death row, but they added that the sentences still would be carried out.
The delay came hours after an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI to Indonesia's president to spare the men, who were found guilty of killing Muslims in religious clashes in 2000 on Sulawesi island.
Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva had been scheduled to die by firing squad early today.
Speaking minutes before the men were scheduled to be killed, national police chief Gen. Sutanto said the executions would be carried out after Aug. 20, but gave no exact date.
He said Sulawesi officials had told him the execution was delayed because they were too busy preparing for celebrations to mark Indonesia's independence on Thursday.
The last-minute papal appeal came in a telegram by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of state.
The three all maintained their innocence, but their final appeal was turned down last year.
About 1,000 people from both faiths were killed in the Sulawesi conflict.
Amnesty International has expressed concerns about reports indicating the trial of the three men did not meet international standards of fairness.