Mon, 12 May 2003

Trial of smiling Bali bombing suspect starts

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

The first session of the Bali bombing trials will start on Monday with the "smiling suspect" Amrozi bin H Nurhasyim as the first defendant among the 33 suspects apprehended so far.

Security is tight with at least four ambassadors and more than 400 journalists directly covering the biggest bombing trial in the country so far.

"The U.S., UK, French and Swiss ambassadors will witness the commencement of the trial. Moreover, at least 400 foreign and domestic journalists will cover the event," Bali Police spokesperson Adj. Sr. Commr. Y Suyatmo said on Sunday.

The trial will take place at Nari Graha, a state-owned building previously used for the activities of Dharma Wanita, an association of the wives of civil servants.

In anticipation of the trial, the building had undergone major renovations in the past several months, including the installation of new iron fences and a specially constructed iron cage, where the defendant would be placed prior to the trial.

"The building has been 'sterilized' and our forces have been deployed in and around the building since yesterday," Suyatmo said.

Bali Police have assigned a total of 3,000 troops to secure the event, out of which 300 officers and 12 marksmen would stationed at the Nari Graha building.

In this first trial the 43-year old Amrozi bin H Nurhasyim would be led from the armored transport car into the iron cage before being escorted into the building to face the five presiding judges, namely I Made Karna, Mulyani, Tjokorda Rai Suamba, I Gusti Ngurah Astawa and Lilik Mulyadi.

Later on, the team of six prosecutors, namely I Nyoman Dila, Urip Tri Gunawan, I Wayan Suwila, Erna Normawati, Putu Supartajaya and Muhammad Salim will take turns in reading the 33- page indictment on Amrozi.

The indictment places Amrozi in violation of the antiterrorism law, which carries a maximum penalty of capital punishment.

"We will try to convince the judges to hand down the maximum penalty. We are very convinced that we will be able to aggressively prosecute and substantiate our indictment in the trial," Bali Prosecutor's Office spokesperson Soedibyo said.

"The defendant could exercise his right to give a direct response to the indictment. He could do so without having to wait for the completion of the written response by his lawyers," Soedibyo added.

Separately, Amrozi's lawyers asked their client not to exercise that right, particularly since the lawyers had not received the copy of the 33-page indictment yet.

"According to the law we are supposed to get a copy of the indictment. But until now, we have not received it," a lawyer Ahmad Mihdan said.

Amrozi was the first suspect detained by the police. His arrest on Nov. 5 2002 eventually led the investigators to the rest of the suspects.

Allegedly one of the planners of the terrorist attack, Amrozi also played an important logistical role in acquiring various chemical compounds needed for the making of the bomb and in obtaining the L-300 minivan that would later be used to place the car bomb in. Anger -- Page 2