Fri, 27 Jun 2003

Witnesses say defendants help built bombs

Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Makassar, South Sulawesi

Two witnesses at the Makassar bomb trial testified on Thursday that they saw defendants Lukman Husain and Usman Nur Affan making a pipe they allegedly used in last year's bombing, which killed three people.

The two defendants assembled the iron pipe at the automotive repair shop, which was run by another defendant, Masnur, witnesses Hanafi and Muhammad Ilyas said. The two witnesses are employees at the repair shop.

Hanafi said the pipe, which was shown to him, was actually his. "It's true, judge, it (the pipe) belonged to me. I made it myself as a money box," he said during the trial of Lukman at the Makassar District Court.

He added that Lukman, who also worked at the repair shop, assembled a similar pipe. Prosecutors believe the bombers used the pipe to stash the bomb inside.

Three people died and 11 others were injured in the bomb explosion inside a McDonald's outlet in the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar on Dec. 5 last year.

Another blast also ripped apart a car dealership owned by Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Jusuf Kalla.

Police believe the attackers are affiliated to the Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) group, a clandestine militant organization that reportedly aims to establish a Southeast Asian Islamic state. Members of JI are also suspected of masterminding the Bali bomb blast, which killed more than 202 people in October last year.

Twelve defendants in connection with the Makassar bombing have been put on trial so far. The first trial involving five defendants began on June 9. The defendants in the first batch are Masnur, Ilham Riyadi, Anton, Haerul, and Muhammad Tang (alias Itang).

The trial of the second batch began on June 13, involving seven defendants, namely Hamid Abdul Razzaq, Imal Hamid, Suryadi Mas'ud, Kaharruddin Mustafa, Muchtar Daeng Lau, Lukman Husain and Usman Nur Affan. Police have deployed 450 officers to guard the trial.

During the trial on Thursday, prosecutors presented a number of pieces of evidence, which police confiscated when they raided Masnur's repair shop.

Among the items were pieces of the pipe, measuring some 10 centimeters long with a diameter of 5 centimeters. Other evidence includes a homemade rifle, cables and parts believed to be used to assemble the rifle.

Witness Muhammad said he too saw the pipes being made, adding that Lukman also built a homemade rifle. "I saw the defendant assembling a rifle like that one," he said pointing at the homemade rifle.

Hanafi's and Muhammad's testimonies came after they claimed that police had beaten them and forced them to sign their witness statements without reading them first.

During the hearing, both looked nervous and at first denied their statements in the dossiers.

Muhammad's testimony that he saw Lukman assembling the rifle came after the judges reminded him to tell the truth.

The trial of Lukman will continue on Thursday next week.