Thu, 02 Oct 2003

Bali bomber Ali Imron asks for President's mercy

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

Remorseful Bali bomber Ali Imron, who was sentenced to life in prison, requested clemency on Wednesday from President Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Imron's lawyer, Suyanto, told reporters he did not expect the President to order Imron to be freed, but hoped instead that she would reduce his sentence to a maximum of 20 years in jail.

"Even though she is the president, she is also a mother. That's why we are trying to prick her conscience," Suyanto said after officially filing his client's request with the Denpasar District Court.

He said the chance was there for his client to win clemency from Megawati as Indonesia still had a culture of forgiveness.

In his letter, Imron asked the President to take his genuine remorse and the confession of guilt he made during his trial into consideration.

Unlike his brother, Amrozi, and fellow key bombing perpetrator Abdul Aziz alias Imam Samudra, who both appealed the death sentences handed down to them, Imron accepted the court's verdict. He received a life sentence, more than the 20-year term recommended by prosecutors.

Imron was found guilty of planning, conspiring in and organizing the bomb attacks on Bali on Oct. 12, 2002, which left 202 people, mostly foreigners, dead and hundreds injured. Terrorism carries the death penalty.

Under Indonesian law, an appeal court can increase, reduce or quash sentences. A clemency request to the president carries less risk because the head of state is not allowed to increase the punishment.

Suyanto said Imron had acknowledged he had misunderstood the true meaning of jihad and had asked Muslims not to follow in his footsteps.

The same court will deliver the verdict on another key suspect, Ali Gufron alias Mukhlas, Imron's elder brother, on Thursday. If found guilty, the defendant may end up facing a firing squad for his role in the bombings.

Amrozi and Samudra are the only suspects in the Bali terror attacks so far who have been sentenced to death, while 13 others have received prison terms ranging from seven years to life.

Separately, chief of the Bali Prosecutor's Office, I Ketut Yona, said a Bali bombing suspect now in the Bali police's custody, Jhony Hendrawan alias Idris, might end up being tried in Jakarta.

"We have not received any confirmation yet as everything is still being discussed in Jakarta. But as far as the plan meets the legal procedures, I think the possibility is there," Yona said.

Idris' trial may be moved to Jakarta due to his alleged links to the JW Marriott Hotel bombing in the capital, which claimed 12 lives.