Filipino pleads guilty to train attack

UNDER GUARD: A Filipino member of the Special Action Force escorting Moklis to a waiting van after he pleaded guilty to the Dec 30, 2000 bombing. - Reuterspic

MANILA: A self-confessed militant pleaded guilty yesterday to a bomb attack on a suburban train in 2000, for which the government has also indicted top leaders of the Jemaah Islamiah network. 

Moklis Hadji Yunos, escorted by two armed policemen and in handcuffs, nodded and answered “yes, yes” in the local language when a regional court judge asked if he pleaded guilty to the bombing on Dec 30, 2000, which killed 12 people. 

It was part of a series of near-simultaneous bombings in the Philippine capital that day which killed a total of 22 people. 

Other targets included a passenger bus, an airport parking lot and a park near the US Embassy, but charges have only been filed for the train attack. 

Yunos, who wept in remorse during preliminary investigations last week, was composed as he pleaded guilty to charges of multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder. He said he understood pleading guilty could lead to the death sentence. 

On Monday, the Department of Justice filed similar charges against eight other people for the bombing, including three top figures of Jemaah Islamiah, which has been described as a radical group seeking an Islamic state across parts of South-East Asia. 

The group is alleged to have ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, which Washington accuses of carrying out the attacks in the United States on Sept 11. 

JI has been blamed for the Bali bomb attacks last year in which more than 200 people were killed and an abortive plan to bomb the US Embassy and other Western targets in Singapore. 

The JI leaders indicted included Isamuddin Riduan alias Hambali, who is believed to be close to Osama and is one of the most wanted men in South-East Asia. 

The others were Abubakar Bafana Faiz, a Malaysian being held in Singapore, and Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, an Indonesian serving a 17-year term in a Philippine prison for illegal possession of explosives and falsifying travel documents. 

Faiz, a Malaysian, is one of 13 JI members arrested in Singapore in December 2001 for the plot to bomb Western targets. 

The other five men indicted in Manila were all Filipinos. 

State prosecutor Peter Ong said Yunos, arrested in May, admitted only to the planning and not the implementation of the series of bombings in Manila. 

“The act of one is the act of all. They will all be penalised in the same manner,” he said. 

“Considering the gravity of the offence, the case will still undergo pre-trial. The next step will include al-Ghozi's arraignment on July 21.” 

The Philippines is also battling a number of home-grown Muslim and communist rebel groups. – Reuters  

For Another perspective from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a partner of Asia News Network, click here

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