JAKARTA: The suspected mastermind of the Bali bombings used his day in court yesterday to thank the prosecutors for demanding a death sentence and said execution by firing squad would bring him closer to God.
Imam Samudra, a 33-year-old Muslim computer expert, was speaking to a court that less than a week ago sentenced the “smiling bomber”, Amrozi, to death for his role in the bombings of two Bali nightclubs that killed 202 people last October.
Amrozi, a disciple of radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir – suspected spiritual leader of the shadowy Jemaah Islamiah (JI) group blamed for the Bali attacks – appealed against his conviction yesterday. He had said he would welcome martyrdom.
Samudra too said he would welcome such a death.
“I'd like to say thank you to the prosecution team, which has demanded the death sentence. Because in death we live peacefully, and in death we draw near to God,” Samudra told the court.
Wearing the loose white shirt and skull cap he favours to distinguish him as a Muslim believer, he began his statement by reciting verses in Arabic from the Quran.
“I'm ready to die a martyr,” he shouted as he was led from the courtroom. His trial resumes on Thursday.
Political analysts say prosecutors' demands for tough sentences mean the world's most populous Muslim nation wants to show it is serious about tackling Islamic militancy, especially after last week's bombing of a US-run luxury hotel in Jakarta.
Military chief General Endriartono Sutarto, who is close to President Megawati Sukarnoputri, threw his support behind calls from the Cabinet for a tough internal security law.
“The escalation of terrorist acts is rising. These can only be dealt with through an internal security act,” Sutarto told reporters.
Such acts exist in nearby Singapore and Malaysia.
Like other Bali accused, Samudra and Amrozi were students of the elderly Bashir, who is on trial in Jakarta for treason linked to his alleged leadership of JI, which is seen as the South-East Asian arm of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda.
Prosecutors will make their demand for sentencing in that case today and Bashir faces a life term.
Bashir sent a message from his jail cell to a congress of his Mujahideen Council of Indonesia (MMI) in central Solo on Sunday, urging Muslims not to fear being labelled “terrorists”.
He was likely to be re-elected as emir, or spiritual leader, of the MMI today, party officials said.
Samudra used his testimony to deny that he took part last September in three planning meetings for the Bali attack, saying he was present only at one gathering on Sept10.
The one-time chicken butcher and perfume seller has admitted involvement in the nightclub attacks, saying he wanted to wage war on the United States, but denies being the ground commander. – Reuters