Tears, applause greet verdict


BALI: Tears flowed and survivors applauded yesterday as a judge here sentenced Muslim militant Amrozi to death for last October's Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. 

But others expressed fears the man dubbed the smiling bomber would become a martyr, encouraging more Muslims to take to the path of violence. 

A group of survivors of the blast that tore through two nightclubs here last October wept and embraced relatives in the courtroom after the sentence was read out. 

“We are so relieved that finally one person got the death penalty and hope the rest do as soon as possible,” said Natalie Juniardi, an Australian mother of two toddlers whose Indonesian husband was killed in the blast at the Sari club. 

She said the verdict had given her a sense of release. 

REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS: A Belgian and his son looking Thursday at memorials to victims of last October's blasts in Bali. More than 200 people were killed when a series of bombs destroyed two nightspots on the resort island. - Reuterspic

“I got out my anger in the end which has been building up for a long time,” she said. 

Australian Prime Minister John Howard told reporters in Sydney that justice had been done. 

“I hope that this verdict provides some sense of comfort to those who lost their loved ones in this tragedy,” Howard said. 

In Bali, some attending the trial planned to celebrate. 

“We are going to party a fair bit tonight here and have a few drinks,” said Australian Geoff Phillips, father of survivor Brad Phillips, who said his son lost seven friends in the blast. 

Australian Jake Ryan, 22, who lost half a foot in the bombing, fought back tears and struggled for words. “It's been a long day,” he said. 

“I wouldn't mind going out and getting blind (drunk), hitting the gas,” he said. 

Dubbed the smiling bomber, Amrozi had giggled with delight when talking about the bombing, shocking and angering people around the world. 

In Sydney, survivors and relatives of victims welcomed the verdict, but there was mixed reaction to the sentence of death. 

“I believe it will make him a martyr,” said Australian Brian Deegan, whose son Josh was killed in Bali. 

“There is going to be a lot of repeats of Tuesday night,” he said, referring to a car bomb that killed at least 10 people at a hotel in Jakarta. 

In Britain, Susanna Miller, whose brother Dan died in the bombing, also said she regretted the death sentence. 

“As (Mahatma) Gandhi said, an eye for an eye makes the world blind,” she told Sky News

“Amrozi asked for a death sentence so he can become a martyr – that's the last thing we want him to be,” said Miller, the spokesman for families of most of the 26 British people who died in the attacks. 

Listening to the court proceedings in his home village of Lamongan on Java island, Amrozi's family sat in subdued silence. 

“It is so unfair ... As Amrozi stayed in prison, bombs are still exploding in Jakarta,” said his elder sister Tasmiah. 

“Everything has been orchestrated. I do not believe Amrozi is capable of making bombs that big.” 

Amrozi's mother, who would not meet reporters, was quoted by another of her sons as saying God would decide her child's fate. 

Wearing a loose white shirt and a cream-and-green skull cap, Amrozi showed scant interest in the proceedings, fidgeting and then smiling occasionally at prosecutors. 

Moderate Muslim cleric Ahmad Syafii Maarif, chairman of the 30-million-strong Muhammadiyah in Indonesia, said the verdict must be accepted, but could spark more violence. 

“Any possibilities exist, but the law must be enforced,” he said. “If you read in the newspaper today Imam Samudra's statement on the Marriott, he was very proud if the perpetrator was a Muslim. That is dangerous.” 

Imam Samudra, accused of being the ground commander of the Bali bomb operation, is one of more than 30 people on trial. – Reuters  

For Another perspective from the Jakarta Post, a partner of Asia News Network, click here

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