Suspected Bali bomber goes on trial

2012-02-13 10:50
Umar Patek, an Indonesian militant charged in the 2002 Bali terrorist attacks, arrives at his trial in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Tatan Syuflana, AP)

Umar Patek, an Indonesian militant charged in the 2002 Bali terrorist attacks, arrives at his trial in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Tatan Syuflana, AP)

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Jakarta - A key Muslim militant arrested in the same Pakistani town where US commandos later killed Osama bin Laden went on trial in Indonesia on Monday on multiple charges including premeditated murder for the 2002 Bali bombings.

Umar Patek, aged 45, faces five other counts, including bomb-making and illegal firearms possession, and prosecutors say they will push for the death sentence.

"Umar Patek's trial is declared open," judge Lexsy Mamonto said, before prosecutor Widodo Supriady began reading the charges.

"Defendant Umar Patek committed an evil conspiracy with others to commit a crime by bringing in, obtaining, providing or owning firearms, ammunition or explosive materials and other dangerous materials to carry out terrorism," Supriady read to the court.

The 30-page indictment also mentioned Patek's involvement in terror-related activities in Aceh province and his role in the Bali bombings.

Patek, once the most wanted terror suspect in Indonesia, had a $1m bounty on his head under the US rewards for justice programme.

Tight security

He was extradited to Indonesia after being arrested in January 2011 in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where US commandos later killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

His trial at the West Jakarta district court opened amid tight security, with police saying they had deployed specialist anti-terrorism and anti-mob units across the capital.

The courtroom was packed with about 30 spectators - many of them Australian reporters - seated on two rows of benches.

Patek, seated on a chair facing a panel of five judges, was flanked on his left by his lawyers and on his right by prosecutors.

He arrived at the court in a police armoured vehicle, escorted by armed police commandos.

Wearing a white Muslim skull cap, white pants, white shirt and an orange prison shirt, he smiled broadly to reporters before entering a holding cell inside the court building.

He gave two-thumbs up with his handcuffed hands, but did not say anything.

Indonesian Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said previously there was information that Patek had been trying to meet bin Laden in Abbottabad before his arrest, but this has not been confirmed.

Activities to be tracked

The trial at the West Jakarta district court is expected to last over four months as prosecutors present evidence from 86 witnesses.

They will testify to Patek's decade-long involvement in terror, prosecutor Bambang Suharyadi said.

"We will track his activities, from the church attacks in 2000 and Bali attacks in 2002 to his roles in the militant training camp in Aceh [on Sumatra island]," he said.

"He hid information about the camp and harboured terrorists like Dulmatin," the prosecutor said, referring to the figure who was Indonesia's most-wanted man until he was killed in a 2010 police raid.

According to a copy of the indictment obtained by AFP, Patek will be charged with premeditated murder and assembling bombs for the October 2002 Bali nightclub attacks, which killed 202 people including 88 Australians, and strikes on churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve of 2000.

Patek allegedly used simple household tools including a rice ladle to assemble the bombs, which were housed in ordinary filing cabinets, according to Suharyadi and details contained in the indictment.

"The defendant filled up the black powder in four filing cabinets, in the meantime, Dulmatin made the bomb's electronic circuit," the document said.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  osama bin laden  |  indonesia  |  security
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