Sultan Ibrahim reading the letter conveying Pope Francis’ gratitude while Archbishop Marino looks on. – Courtesy of Royal Press Office.

JOHOR BARU: Pope Francis has expressed his gratitude to Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar for commuting the death sentences of three Mexican brothers who were convicted for drug trafficking.

This was conveyed in a letter signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and personally delivered to Sultan Ibrahim at Istana Pasir Pelangi yesterday by Vatican Ambassador to Malaysia Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino.

The letter read: “On behalf of His Holiness Pope Francis, I am writing to thank you for your act of clemency and subsequent help in the repatriation of three Mexicans sentenced to death.”

The letter added: “His Holiness prays this act of compassion will be an encouragement for all people to renew their commitment to building a world marked by forgiveness, peace and a spirit of fraternal solidarity.

“Invoking upon Your Majesty and members of the Royal Family an abundance of joy and peace, Pope Francis reiterates his profound gratitude.”

Archbishop Marino later said the meeting with His Majesty was a cordial one and lasted almost 40 minutes.

“We were able to exchange views on matters of mutual interest, especially on fostering greater inter-religious relations,” he added.

Archbishop Marino also took the opportunity to invite Sultan Ibrahim to visit the Vatican embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

The Mexicans, Simon, Luis Alfonso and Jose Regino Gonzalez Villarreal, were arrested in a raid on a methamphetamine lab in Johor Baru in March 2008 and were sentenced to hang in 2012.

They had pleaded innocence, saying they had been hired to clean a building and were unaware there was drug in it.

Their conviction was upheld the following year.

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