A Muslim militant arrested in the same Pakistani town where US commandos later
killed Osama bin Laden stood trial in Indonesia yesterday on charges including
murder for the 2002 Bali bombings. Umar Patek, 45, faces 5 other counts,
including bomb-making and illegal firearms possession, and prosecutors say they
will push for the death penalty.
Amid a security lockdown, with anti-terrorism units deployed in Jakarta, Patek
arrived at the court in an armored police vehicle, giving a 2-thumbs up gesture
with his handcuffed hands, but said nothing. The Indonesian is charged with
premeditated murder and assembling bombs for the October 2002 Bali nightclub
attacks, which killed 202 people including 88 Australians, and strikes on
churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve of 2000.
“Defendant Umar Patek committed an evil conspiracy with others to commit a
crime by bringing in, obtaining, providing or owning firearms, ammunition or
explosive materials and other dangerous materials to carry out terrorism,”
prosecutor Widodo Supriady said, reading part of the indictment to court.
Wearing a white Muslim skull cap, white trousers, white shirt and an orange
prison shirt, he smiled broadly to reporters before entering a holding cell
inside the court building.
The West Jakarta district courtroom was packed with about 100 spectators, more
than half of them reporters, many of whom were working for Australian media.
Patek, facing a panel of five judges, was flanked by prosecutors and defence
lawyers, who say attempts are being made to paint him as a Bali bombings
mastermind. He sat in a white shirt, wearing glasses and quietly reading the
indictment. After the session adjourned for next yesterday, he shook hands with
judges and prosecutors and smiled as he was escorted from the courtroom.
The trial of Patek, believed to be a key member of the Al-Qaeda-linked
Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), is expected to last over
four months as prosecutors present evidence from 86 witnesses. They will
testify to Patek’s decade-long involvement in terror, prosecutor Bambang
Suharyadi told AFP. Patek allegedly used simple household tools including a
rice ladle to assemble bombs, which were housed in ordinary filing cabinets,
according to Suharyadi and details contained in the indictment.
The indictment states that Patek was instructed by fellow Indonesian Imam
Samudra to assemble the bombs for the Bali attacks. Samudra, convicted of being
one of the masterminds, was executed in 2008 by an Indonesian firing squad.
Riduan Ismudin, also known as Hambali and widely regarded as the brain behind
the attacks, was arrested in 2003 and is now held by US forces at Guantanamo
But defence lawyer Asludin Hatjani told reporters yesterday: “Prosecutors are
trying to suggest that Patek was the mastermind of the Bali bombings, but he
was not. He didn’t initiate the attack.” “The premeditated murder charge was
also inappropriate,” he added. “We don’t deny that he (Patek) was involved in
the Bali bombing but his role was really small,” Hatjani told AFP after the
session. Among the crowd in court yesterday was Farihin, an Indonesian who goes
by a single name and who said he had attended the same terrorist training camp
on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan as Patek.
“Umar is an expert in demolition. He was an ordinary member of the team, not
the mastermind or perpetrator of what happened in Bali,” said Farihin, a former
JI member who was twice jailed in Indonesia for Islamic militancy and is now a
cold drinks vendor. He said he last saw Patek before the Bali attacks. Patek,
once the most-wanted terror suspect in Indonesia, who spent nearly a decade on
the run, had a $1 million bounty on his head under the US rewards for justice
program. He was extradited to Indonesia after being arrested in January 2011 in
the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where US commandos killed Al-Qaeda chief bin
Laden in May.
(source: Kuwait Times)