Defiant Bali bomber sentenced to death
The Islamic militant mastermind of the Bali bombings was sentenced to death by firing squad in Indonesia on Wednesday after an Indonesian court found him guilty of an “extraordinary crime against humanity”.
Imam Samudra waved his fist defiantly and shouted “Allahu Akbar! [God is greatest]” three times after judges handed down their sentence for his role in the attacks on two nightclubs that left 202 people dead last October.
“We sentence the defendant ... to the death penalty,” said chief Judge Wayan Sugawa, saying Samudra had been proven guilty of all four charges against him.
Judge Ifa Sudewi said there were no mitigating factors. She said Samudra committed “an extraordinary crime and a crime against humanity”.
Samudra again yelled “Allahu Akbar” as paramilitary police gripped his arms and led him out of court.
“Go to hell, kafir [infidels]!” he shouted in Arabic.
Investigators believe Samudra is a leading member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, which staged the attack on Western holidaymakers to avenge the oppression of Muslims worldwide.
The bombings killed 164 Western holidaymakers and 38 Indonesians.
It was the worst act of terror since the September 11 2001 attacks in the United States.
“The defendant is seen as playing a dominant role in the Bali bomb blasts and therefore the judges declare that he is the intellectual actor behind the Bali bomb explosions,” Sudewi said.
The Afghanistan-trained Samudra, who wore a white Muslim shirt and a black cap, is the second Bali bomber to be sentenced to death, after Amrozi on August 7.
Samudra has said he would welcome death as bringing him closer to God. But Qadhar Faisal, one of his lawyers, told reporters Samudra had instructed them before the verdict to appeal any death sentence.
Faisal told reporters that Samudra believes the verdict is “haram” [forbidden under Islam] because he should have been tried under Islamic law.
Other key suspects awaiting verdicts in coming weeks are an alleged senior Jemaah Islamiyah operative called Mukhlas, who is said to have authorised Samudra to go ahead with the attack, and Ali Imron, one of the bombmakers.
Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imron are brothers.
Samudra (33) selected the blast targets and assigned tasks to the bombers as part of his self-declared war against the US.
“Let me be the one to die as a martyr and release the others, I’m glad with that,” he was shown telling his lawyer in film footage broadcast on Tuesday night by Australia’s Channel Nine network.
“I tell Australians we’re not afraid,” Samudra was quoted as saying by a translator. “Before 10 years, Australia and America will be destroyed. Please help me God, I’m not afraid.”
Throughout his trial Samudra displayed a chilling indifference to his own fate and that of his victims. He never admitted links to Jemaah Islamiyah but made no secret of his motives.
“This war is against America and the world understands that America is conceited, arrogant, savage and brutal,” he said during the trial.
“The war against America and its allies is a war against evil, against tyranny and a war against terrorism and this is jihad [holy war] in the path of Allah.”
During his trial Samudra sought to play down his role, denying he was the one who picked the targets or gave orders to fellow bombers but admitting involvement in and responsibility for the blasts.
He expressed only perfunctory regret at the killing of Muslims in Bali, describing it as a “side effect”.
An unidentified Australian relative of one victim said he was “very happy” at the outcome.
“Tonight when he sits back in his cell he might think about the people that he’s actually killed, he might actually finally start to feel some remorse away from the cameras. Who knows?”
Ketut Jontri, whose taxi-driver husband was killed in the blast, said she was “very pleased” with the sentence.
“One thing that I really want is that when he is executed, I can be allowed to watch—because otherwise I will not believe that he has been executed.”—Sapa-AFP