Fri, 27 Jun 2003

Amrozi refuses to testify in Samudra trial

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

Another show of defiance marked the trial of Imam Samudra on Thursday when Amrozi bin Nurhasyim refused to testify against the defendant, making him the second key witness to adopt the stance.

"I don't want to take an oath and I refuse to give any testimony," Amrozi said.

On Wednesday, Amrozi's older brother Ali Gufron refused to testify against Imam Samudra, the alleged mastermind of the Bali bombings, in which at least 202 people perished, mostly foreigners.

Following the tactic previously employed by Gufron, Amrozi based his refusal on Article 168 of the Criminal Code.

The article stipulates that any person who is related to the defendant or is being prosecuted in the same case as him, has the legal right not to testify against him.

Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Ali Gufron have been indicted with the same primary charge of planning and organizing the bombings, an offense that carries the death penalty.

Presiding judge I Wayan Sugawa showed his irritation with Amrozi's refusal by trying to corner the witness into saying which section of Article 168 he had based his stance on.

After thinking the question through for a moment, Amrozi, who was apparently unaware that the article comprised three different sections, gave a short reply.

"Well, Article 168, in that article," he said.

Citing the Supreme Court decision dated March 21, 1990 on admissible exceptions to the article, Sugawa tried in vain to force Amrozi to testify.

Losing his patience, Sugawa ordered the prosecutors to approach the bench and submitted Amrozi's police interrogation file (BAP). He also asked Amrozi to approach the bench to confirm the authenticity of the document.

Realizing that the judge was going to take the file as evidence in place of testimony, Samudra's lawyers voiced their objection. Sugawa angrily overruled the motion.

Amrozi responded by immediately returning to his seat, looking Sugawa straight in his eyes before reiterating his stance.

"I will not testify. Period," he said angrily.

Chief prosecutor I Nyoman Dila later read the summary of the interrogation file.

According to the file, Amrozi had confessed that there were several planning and preparatory meetings prior to the bombings. Those meetings were conducted at different places in Sukoharjo and Surakarta.

"The file is not true because I was coerced into signing it," Amrozi said.

Amrozi was among the five witnesses summoned to testify at Thursday's trial. The trial will resume next Wednesday.

Separately, the trials of 12 other defendants in the Bali bombings were held at five different venues at Denpasar Public Court.