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Bali Bomber All Smiles, Facing Death Sentence

From the Sidney Morning Herald:

Convicted Bali bomber Amrozi Nurhasyim arrives at court today.

Convicted Bali bomber Amrozi Nurhasyim arrives at court today.

Still smiling as firing squad looms

April 19, 2006

Death row Bali bomber Amrozi proved today he had lost none of his chilling bravado and humour despite being near execution as he made a rare court appearance to testify for radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

In scenes closer to carnival than courtroom, Amrozi traded jokes with judges, demanding coffee and lecturing them on their poor education as hundreds of supporters wearing "mujahidin" fighter headbands and jackets roared approval.

Nicknamed the "smiling assassin" because he laughed at the carnage caused by the 2002 Bali bombs, Amrozi smiled and appeared relaxed as he denied reporting to Bashir and seeking his blessing ahead of the attack.

Told by chief judge Agus Sutarno to relax, he quipped "where’s the coffee" as his adoring supporters shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great).

Moments later Amrozi chided judges who asked him to slow his testimony for notes.

"Where was your school?" Amrozi shot back, prompting howls of laughter including smiles from the bench.

Amrozi, the former village mechanic and handyman turned 2002 attack quartermaster, told the court he had only ever met Bashir to discuss installing a makeshift phone line.

"I can make many things," he added in veiled warning, saying the pair enjoyed "coffee and bread" over afternoon tea.

Bashir was sentenced last year to 30 months in prison for his involvement in the 2002 conspiracy, which killed 88 Australians among 202 victims.

But prosecutors relied heavily on testimony from another prisoner jailed for his role in the bombings, Mubarok, who told authorities that he and Amrozi met Bashir at the cleric’s home two months before the attack.

When told about the bomb plans, Mubarok alleged Bashir told the pair: "It’s up to you. You are the ones who know the situation on the ground".

Amrozi denied this was ever said.

"This old man had nothing to do with this," he told the court in testimony which will be passed to the Supreme Court in Jakarta to support a legal appeal lodged by Bashir..

"If the followers are punished then okay, but this old man has only a little life left."

He chided Mubarok for involving Bashir, Amrozi said, and Mubarok claimed he had been tortured by police interrogators.

"I told him to just name (former Indonesian National Police chief) Da’i Bachtiar," Amrozi said to fresh gales of laughter.

Wearing a white skullcap, beige robe and spectacles, Amrozi looked to have put on weight in the the maximum security Nusakambangan island prison, dubbed "Indonesia’s Alcatraz".

It is there that Amrozi and two co-conspirators – older brother Ali Gufron and Imam Samudra – are awaiting execution after instructing their families this month not to seek clemency.

Almost 500 police and marines, including the bomb and dog squads, as well as black-clad paramilitary police armed with assault rifles, were posted outside the two-storey courthouse as Amrozi arrived in an armoured car.

His brief court appearance underscored why Indonesia authorities want Amrozi and the others as soon as possible to avoid them becoming heroes to more extremists.

Lawyers and several officials kissed Amrozi’s cheeks afterwards, while one judge Muslich Bambang Lukmono admitted praying together with Amrozi in prison and throughout the hearing treated him deferentially.

"I’m sorry that for this hearing we couldn’t give the best possible terms for the witness," he said, appealing for Amrozi’s backers to stay calm amid occasional chaotic scenes as prosecutors sought to challenge Bashir’s lawyers.

"You’re stupid prosecutors, Jewish prosecutors," Amrozi’s faithful interjected.

Fauzan Al-Anshari, the spokesman for the hardline Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (Council of Islamic Holy Warriors) founded by Bashir, said he was pleased with Amrozi’s showing.

"He said he was still giving himself to God and he prays God gives him strength and courage to tell the truth, and I think his prayer has been granted," he said.

Bashir’s lawyer Wirawan Adnan – one of four high-powered defence counsels – said Amrozi had proved Bashir was never involved in terrorism, despite US and Australian accusations that he is a terrorist leader.

"He said he feels sorry for Abu Bakar who is in jail for something that he did not do," Adnan said.

This is “justice” in a world intimidated by terrorists.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, April 19th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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