Prosecutors demand 20 years for bombing suspect

Thursday, September 4, 2003

BALI, Indonesia -- Indonesian prosecutors on Wednesday demanded 20 years in prison for an Islamic militant implicated in last year's bombings on the resort island of Bali that killed 202 people.

Ali Imron has admitted playing a key role in the attacks, which devastated two packed nightclubs on Oct. 12.

"We, the prosecutors, urge the judges to find the defendant guilty of committing terrorist acts," said Putu Sulaba, a prosecution attorney.

Imron is the fifth of about 30 suspects arrested in connection with the case to go on trial.

One suspect has already been sentenced to death, and prosecutors have asked for the same punishment for two others.

Prosecutors explained they were seeking a 20-year prison term for Imron because he had expressed regret and had cooperated with investigators.

Imron sobbed as Sulaba read out his statement.

The prosecution demand comes a day after a Jakarta court convicted Abu Bakar Bashir, a Muslim cleric, of sedition and sentenced him to four years in jail. However, Bashir was cleared of the more serious charge of heading Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian militant network blamed for the Bali bombings and a string of other attacks.

Imron is a veteran of the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan, where he learned bomb-making skills, and is the youngest of three brothers accused of involvement in the Bali case.

Prosecutors said Imron helped assemble a bomb used in the nightclub attacks and placed another bomb outside the U.S. consulate in Bali which exploded but caused no damage.

Prosecutors regard Imron as their key witness since he has readily implicated co-conspirators, including his own brothers.

Suspects have told the court that they carried out the bombing to strike back at the United States and other Western countries they accuse of persecuting Muslims worldwide. Many of the victims were Australians.

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