Wed, 08 Jan 2003

Lawyers want Bali bombing trial moved for security reasons

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

A group of unidentified men attacked on Tuesday two lawyers who are defending the suspects in the Bali bombing case, injuring one and strengthening the defense team's call for the upcoming trial to be moved outside of Bali as the island was unsafe for them.

Lawyer Made Rahman Marassabesy suffered a bruise on his left cheek after he was punched in an attack against him and colleague, Qhadar Faisal Ruskandar.

Qhadar managed to dodge the attack although his glasses fell and broke.

The incident occurred after the two attended a preliminary hearing of Masykur Abdul Kadir, one of the 15 detained suspects in the Bali bombing case.

More than 190 people, mainly foreign tourists, died in the blast at two of the islands' crowded nightclubs in October last year.

Security was tight at Denpasar District Court, where the preliminary hearing was held, said Qhadar.

"Afterwards we left under police guard to head for the head judge's room. But when we got there, the room was locked and so we waited in front of the door," he said.

He said he felt relaxed at that time because of the large presence of police officers from the crowd control unit.

Made, he said, was facing north and did not see his attacker who emerged from the crowd that had assembled not far behind him.

"The moment I heard Made Rahman cry out, I turned and there he was on the floor, in front of me, covering his head," Qhadar said.

The crowd behind Made and another group of people in front of him became agitated after witnessing the incident. It was only then that the police stepped in, as they pushed the crowd away from the two lawyers. An ultimatum for everyone who had "no business" to leave the area managed to disperse the crowd.

Upon seeing the crowd splitting up, several police officers immediately took the two lawyers to a car with which they were taken to safety.

Bali Police chief of detectives Comr. Sr. Eddy Kusumawijaya said he would investigate the incident which Made Rahman had reported.

Asked why police did not arrest the attackers even though they were present when the attack occurred, he said the officers might have had their own reasons. "It could have provoked others in the crowd," he said.

Qhadar said he and Made would fly back to Jakarta for a meeting with the defense team in response to the attack.

They also refused to join the upcoming preliminary hearings, asking the court to postpone them or proceed without their presence.

"Whether they grant it or not that's up to the head judge. I've written my request and will fly to Jakarta," he said, adding that he would not come return to Denpasar until Thursday.

Police said they expected the trials against the Bali bomb suspects to begin in February.

Prosecutors received the case files of one of the four prime suspects, Amrozi, on Monday. They might need another two to four weeks before registering the case with court officials.

The lawyers' defense team, however, have demanded the trial be held outside of Bali, claiming that the island was unsafe for them while also fearing a trial by press.

On Monday, members of the Denpasar Care Forum (FPD) threw eggs at the lawyers even though the forum earlier said it would help ensure the trial's safety.

Police meanwhile have examined the laptop belonging to another Bali bomb suspect whom they believe was the mastermind behind the blast.

The laptop of Abdul Aziz alias Imam Samudra was opened on Saturday night. However, the case's chief investigator Insp. Gen. Made Mangku Pastika has said the result would not be announced to the public.

University of Indonesia legal expert Rudy Satria said that electronic data could be used as evidence during a trial even though its use was not regulated.

"Once the data is printed out, then it is treated like a letter or document," he explained.