Remorseful Bali bomber may escape death

A remorseful Islamic teacher who planted the deadliest bomb in the Bali nightclub attacks was expected to escape the death penalty in Indonesia on Thursday as judges began delivering his verdict.

Prosecutors have demanded a 20-year prison term for Ali Imron, who parked the van containing the main bomb used in last October’s terrorist attacks in the bustling Kuta tourist strip, which left more than 200 people dead.

Sitting calmly before the judges in his neatly pressed suit, blue shirt, tie and dark trousers, the clean-shaven Imron (33) presented a different image from the other key suspects.

They have come to court bearded in Muslim garb and angrily shouted “God is great” at the start and closing of proceedings.

Five judges at the Denpasar state district court took turns reading a verdict about 400 pages long that included a summary of the testimony of every single witness who testified in the trial, which lasted nearly two months.

The near-simultaneous blasts at Paddy’s Bar and Sari Club last October 12 killed 202 people, mostly Western vacationers.

Prosecutors alleged Imron and 10 other suspects planned and prepared the attack between August and October last year.

They say he attended several planning meetings, visited Bali in September to survey the targets and helped transport bomb-making chemicals to the island.

Imron is accused of helping a fugitive Malaysian called Dr Azahari to build the Sari Club bomb from chemicals and TNT packed inside plastic boxes in a van parked outside the club.

The indictment says Imron, together with a man called Idris who was arrested in June, taught a suicide bomber how to detonate an explosives-stuffed vest.

The bomber, named Feri alias Isa, wore the vest into Paddy’s Bar across the road from Sari Club.

Imron is further accused of planting another bomb, which caused little damage, outside the United States consulate, and of driving the van close to Sari Club.

Imron had initially shown no remorse for his part in the attacks according to investigators, but has undergone a dramatic transformation since his arrest.

During his trial Imron admitted his guilt and repeatedly apologised to witnesses. He 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, led to their call for a 20-year sentence rather than death, the maximum penalty for terrorism.

Courts in Bali have already handed the death sentence to Imron’s older brother Amrozi and to the bombing’s organiser, Imam Samudra.

Prosecutors have also sought the death sentence for Imron’s eldest 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 bombing, will be sentenced on October 2.

Police say the Jemaah Islamiyah extremist network staged the bombing of two Bali bars crowded with Western tourists to avenge injustices to Muslims worldwide. Authorities say the group has some links to al-Qaeda.

Imron and Mukhlas are among 34 people detained for the Bali attacks.
Most of them are already on trial.—Sapa-AFP

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