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18 Sep 2003 10:07
A remorseful Islamic teacher was jailed for life by an Indonesian court on Thursday after being found guilty of playing a key role in last October’s Bali bombings that left more than 200 people dead.
Ali Imron admitted helping plot the attacks, which police blamed on the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, as well as assisting in the construction of the van bomb detonated in the heart of Bali’s tourist strip.
A total of 202 people, mostly Western tourists, were killed when separate bombs exploded almost simultaneously near a bar and a nightclub on October 12 last year.
“We sentence the defendant ... to the punishment of jail for life,” said Chief Judge Lilik Mulyadi.
Imron (33) appeared calm when the sentence was read out but seemed to be frowning when two policemen later led him away.
The sentence was heavier than the 20-year jail sentence sought by prosecutors but less than the maximum penalty of death, which can be imposed in terror cases.
Mulyadi said Imron had committed “an extraordinary crime and a crime against humanity”.
However, the judge said Imron “had felt guilt and has honestly expressed regrets”.
He was polite throughout the trial and had realised that the blast “was a mistake according to Islam”, the judge said.
The court had earlier found Imron guilty of planning an act of terrorism.
The judges said Imron had admitted helping to build the bomb and drove it to an intersection close to the Sari nightclub. Another driver then detonated it outside the nightclub after the suicide bombing inside the nearby Paddy’s Bar.
Judges also said Imron admitted to planting a bomb near the United States consulate in Denpasar. The bomb, detonated by remote control, caused minor damage and no casualties.
They said he attended several planning meetings, surveyed the targets, helped transport bomb-making chemicals to the island. He also helped a fugitive Malaysian called Dr Azahari—allegedly a top Jemaah Islamiyah bombmaker—to build the Sari Club bomb.
Judges said the defendant had admitted teaching a suicide bomber how to detonate an explosives-stuffed vest and showed another man, Arnasan, how to activate a remote detonator for the van bomb.
The suicide bomber, Feri alias Isa, wore the vest into Paddy’s Bar across the road from Sari Club.
Imron is the only Bali bombing accused to publicly express remorse.
“I am guilty and I can only seek forgiveness from my family, my friends, the family of victims and the victims,” Imron told the trial.
Statements like that, along with what prosecutors called his straightforward testimony, prompted prosecutors to call for a 20-year sentence rather than death.
Sitting calmly before the judges in his neatly pressed suit, blue shirt, tie and dark trousers, the clean-shaven Imron presented a different image from the other key suspects.
They had come to court bearded in Muslim garb and angrily shouted “God is great” at the start and close of proceedings.
Police say Jemaah Islamiyah carried out the attacks to avenge the perceived oppression of Muslims worldwide.
Courts in Bali have already handed the death sentence to Imron’s brother Amrozi and to the bombing’s organiser, Imam Samudra.
Prosecutors have also sought the death sentence for Imron’s oldest brother, Ali Ghufron alias Mukhlas, who gave his final defence plea during a separate trial on Thursday.
Mukhlas, accused of having overall responsibility for the bombings, will be sentenced on October 2.
A separate court in Indonesia earlier on Thursday sentenced Bambang Sutiyono to seven years in jail for helping several key Bali bomb suspect to hide.—Sapa-AFP
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