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Jakarta Court Sentences Embassy Bomber to Death

An Indonesian court yesterday sentenced to death the main militant on trial over last year's suicide car bombing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, which the chief judge said was financed by Osama bin Laden.

Rois, also known as Iwan Dharmawan, told reporters he was innocent of an attack that killed 10 Indonesians but said he still welcomed the death sentence and would die a martyr.

Prosecutors had accused Rois of working with the accused masterminds of the attack, Malaysians Azahari bin Husin and Noordin M. Top, who are both fugitives and said by police to be senior members of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiah network.

Rois, 30, bought the vehicle and other materials used in the bombing and recruited the driver who drove the car to the Australian Embassy fence, prosecutors had said.

"We declare the defendant carried out cumulative acts from participating in a terror crime to intentionally hiding the suspects of terror crimes," presiding judge Roki Panjaitan told the South Jakarta District Court.

"The operational funds for the bombing came from Top. The money was sent via courier by Osama bin Laden. The total cost was US$10,000."

It was the first time the court had linked the embassy bombing to bin Laden, the Saudi-born leader of al-Qaida. Panjaitan said the attack was in response to Australia's support of US policies in the Muslim world.

Rois stood up waving a fist in the air and shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) after the verdict was read out just four days after the first anniversary of the embassy attack.

"I am thankful for being sentenced to death. I am happy because I will die a martyr," Rois told reporters, adding that the judgement was "stupid."

"When one Muslim dies, other Muslims will take revenge."

Rois has said he did not know the materials he bought were later used to make a one-tonne bomb that was stored in the van he purchased.

The presiding judge said Rois taught the driver of the van, Heri Golun, how to drive and also went to survey the embassy location along one of Jakarta's busiest thoroughfares.

Outcry over Bali bombers

The verdict was welcomed by Australia after outrage greeted sentence reductions given under a remission programme to two-thirds of the 30 militants convicted over the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 88 Australians.

"The Court has delivered the most severe sentence possible for the bomber's terrible crime. The conviction underlines Indonesia's determination to prosecute to the full extent of the law those involved directly or indirectly in terrorism," said Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who is visiting Europe.

Among those who had sentences cut during annual jail term reductions to mark independence celebrations last month was the accused spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, Abu Bakar Bashir.

Bashir had 135 days pared from a 30-month jail term handed down for conspiracy related to the Bali bombings, which killed 202 people in all.

The Jakarta court that convicted Rois has jailed three other men for terms of between 42 months and seven years over the car bombing outside the Australian mission.

Two other men are currently on trial. Authorities have also made several other arrests and are likely to put those suspects on trial in the coming months.

As well as the embassy attack, authorities blame Jemaah Islamiah for other bombings in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Rois' sentence is the fourth death penalty handed down under Indonesia's anti-terrorism laws, drawn up in the wake of the Bali bombings.

Three of the main Bali bombers were also sentenced to death. The status of their appeals was unclear although they were not included in the prisoner remission scheme. Executions in Indonesia are carried out by firing squad.

(China Daily September 14, 2005)


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