Tue, 26 Aug 2003

Prosecutors demand death sentence for Ali Ghufron

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

In wrapping up its case on Monday, the prosecution demanded the death sentence for Bali bombing suspect Ali Ghufron alias Mukhlas, making him the third man to date who may end up in front of a firing squad.

Chief prosecutor Putu Indriati told the court that Mukhlas, allegedly a Southeast Asia regional leader of the Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist network, had been proved guilty beyond all reasonable doubt of conspiring to cause the Oct. 12, 2002, attack, which killed 202 people and injured over 300 others.

"He (Mukhlas) was the planner because he prepared the funds to finance and the human resources to execute the attacks," Indriati said while reading out the 275-page sentence demand.

The prosecution also sought the death sentence for Abdul Aziz alias Imam Samudra, the alleged field commander for the attack. Meanwhile, Amrozi, the first of the bombers to be convicted, has already been sentenced to death by the Denpasar District Court.

In the attacks, the perpetrators detonated two powerful bombs, including a 1,025-kilogram car bomb, which ripped through the Sari Club and Paddy's Cafe in the popular resort area of Kuta, and a smaller bomb near the U.S. consular agency office in the Renon area of the provincial capital, Denpasar.

Indriati stressed that Mukhlas had received a total of US$ 30,500 from Wan Min bin Wan Mat, a Malaysian national now under police custody in Kuala Lumpur. The money reportedly came from Hambali, the JI leader currently detained by the U.S. government at an undisclosed location after having been hunted for years.

The prosecution said Mukhlas later distributed the money to his younger brother Amrozi and his accomplices Idris and Abdul Ghoni. Afterwards, these men used the money to finance the planning and execution of the Bali bombings.

Furthermore, Indriati added, Mukhlas also encouraged several other people to participate in the bomb attacks.

"He persuaded two people, Jimmy alias Arnasan and Ferry alias Isa, to act as suicide bombers in the Sari Club and Paddy's Cafe," she said.

It was Mukhlas who told his younger brother Ali Imron to plant a five-kilogram bomb near the U.S. consular office, and later to drive the van containing a bomb close to the detonation point in front of the Sari Club, the prosecutors said.

The prosecutors also said that Mukhlas had been proven guilty of illegally possessing and carrying a firearm, an offense which according to the Emergency Law of 1951, which is still in effect, carries a maximum penalty of death.

Police seized an FN pistol, eight bullets and Rp 5.97 million in cash when they arrested Mukhlas on Dec. 3, 2002.

"We do not find any mitigating factors as the defendant has not been cooperative with this court. Nor has he showed any remorse for his actions," Indriati said.

Responding to the sentence demand, Mukhlas smiled before calmly clenching both his fists and placing them in front of his chest. He apparently was praying.

So far, prosecutors have presented their sentence demands for 15 out of the 29 persons standing trial for the bombings. Twelve defendants are facing jail sentences of between eight and 20 years.