Indonesia: Bali bombers launch final appeal to avoid death

Denpasar, 25 Feb. (AKI) – The three convicted Bali bombers have made a last legal attempt to escape their death sentences, arguing that their verdicts were unconstitutional.

The three men - Amrozi Nurhasyim, also dubbed 'the smiling assassin', his brother Ali Ghufron, or Mukhlas, and Imam Samudra - were sentenced to death for playing key roles in the nightclub bombings that killed 202 people, most of whom were foreigners, October 2002.

The defendants did not attend the hearings themselves, but were represented by their lawyers in three separate hearings that started at a district court in Bali on Monday.

Each of the hearings was adjourned until Thursday, when the judges will sum up their position on the cases. The appeals will then be submitted to the Supreme Court for a final ruling, which could be several months away.

The trio’s lawyers have argued that the convictions were illegal, because they were based on anti-terror laws passed after the attack took place. Indonesia’s constitution does not allow laws to be applied retroactively.

The lawyers have also requested that the hearings should be moved to Cilacap in Central Java, near the maximum security prison where the bombers are being held, so that they can testify.

Government prosecutors have challenged the right of the appeal, because similar petitions filed last year were rejected, and Indonesian law makes no provision for a second judicial review.

Indonesia’s Supreme Court nevertheless accepted the second judicial review request on 3 February, soon before the prisoners were due to be executed by firing squad.  

The trio was initially scheduled to be executed in 2006, but the executions were halted after the prisoners applied for their cases to be reviewed.

The three terrorists have told media several times they would not be seeking a presidential pardon, because they want to die as martyrs.

None of them have shown any remorse over the attacks.

Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra are believed to be members of the regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which is said to have links to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network.

The group aims to establish an Islamic State in Southeast Asia that includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the southern Philippines, Singapore and Brunei.

JI has been blamed for a series of deadly attacks across Indonesia in recent years, including several simultaneous church bombings on Christmas Eve 2000, as well as the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings, the bombing of the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta in 2004 and an attack on the Australian Embassy in 2005.

In the last few years, Indonesian authorities have arrested a large number of suspects and successfully halted several attempts at terrorist attacks, severely damaging JI’s ability to operate, analysts have said.  

About 85 percent of Indonesia’s more than 220 million people are Muslim. Most of them are moderate, but a vocal militant minority emerged after the fall of President Suharto in 1998.



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