Tue, 05 Aug 2003

Bombing suspects show defiance

Wahyoe Boediwardhana The Jakarta Post Denpasar, Bali

Key Bali bombings suspect Abdul Azis alias Imam Samudra sparked anger among the panel of judges trying another suspect Ali Imron on Monday as he opted to remain silent when called on to testify.

Samudra simply replied, "I don't know", in response to the judges' questions.

The 33-year-old Samudra testified that he did not know who carried out last October's bomb attacks or whether they were linked to a particular organization.

He strongly denied the judges' statement when they verified his written statement with Imron's dossier, where he disclosed a meeting in the Central Java town of Surakarta that led to the planning and execution of the bombings.

"For God's sake. There was no talk about the bombings at that time. My testimony in the dossier is baseless," Samudra said.

Everybody, he said, knew that he was under strong pressure to provide the police with the information they demanded.

"I was physically and mentally tortured. That was an open secret," Imam added. Like another suspect, Amrozi, Samudra also retracted his written statements against Imron.

Samudra, Amrozi and Imron are all charged with planning and executing the Bali bombings, which claimed 202 lives.

Samudra's denials drew the ire of the judges.

"You have sworn to tell the truth," one of the judges cautioned Samudra.

Police have said the terror attack in Bali was the work of the al Qaeda-linked Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), to which Samudra and his fellow suspects allegedly belong.

The other suspect who appeared in court on Monday, Amrozi, also refused to testify, citing the law which allows a witness to refuse to testify against a family or blood relation. Imron is Amrozi's younger brother.

Despite facing the death sentence, both Samudra and Amrozi appear to take the trial lightly.

When passing Imron after the session, Samudra pointed to Imron. "Where is your beard. Now, you're wearing a tie?"

"I can look different," replied Imron.

Amrozi pretended to being unable to recognize his brother when asked by the panel of judges if he knew the defendant.

"I'm afraid I cannot tell the defendant from his lawyers. They look so similar (wearing similar clothes)," Amrozi said.

As in the previous sessions, Imron was dressed in a formal suit and tie. Amrozi and Samudra have always refused to dress specially for the court.

During the trial, Amrozi has withdrawn all the written statements that he made during his questioning by the Bali Police. He insisted on doing this despite the fact that he had already signed them.

Before leaving the courtroom, Amrozi affectionately waved his hand at his younger brother.

Another witness, the owner of a motor car showroom, Henri Pribadi, said at first he did not believe the defendant was the one who bought a Yamaha F1ZR motorcycle before the bombings.

"It was not him," Henri told the presiding judge.

Presiding Judge Mulyani repeated the question three times to make sure the witness had told the truth. "I hope that the witness can remain calm and focused. Just look at his face carefully. Do you remember if he was the one that bought a motorcycle from your show room?" Mulyani asked.

Henri changed his testimony after he saw Imron's face up close. "I remember his teeth. Yes, It was he who bought the motorcycle at my show room," Henri said.

Imron's trial was adjourned until next Wednesday to hear other testimony.