| Amrozi after the verdict was read out in Bali. (Reuters)
Bali, Aug. 7 (Reuters): An Indonesian Muslim militant dubbed the “smiling bomber” was sentenced to death today for playing a key role in the Bali nightclub bombings, the first conviction for the attacks that killed 202 people last year.
Australian survivors wept, hugged and kissed each other as the chief judge pronounced the verdict on Amrozi, a 40-year-old mechanic from Java island. Many shouted with delight.
After the sentence was announced in Bali, a defiant Amrozi swivelled his chair to the courtroom to face relatives of those killed, smiled broadly and made a thumbs-up sign with both hands.
It was a grim flashback to Amrozi’s giggling delight at the attacks, broadcast in a public police interrogation a month after the blasts and shocking people across the Hindu island and around the world. Amrozi faces death by firing squad, although his lawyer said an appeal would be lodged. Families of several British victims said they also planned to appeal against the sentence to prevent the self-confessed bomber becoming a martyr to inspire extremists.
“Allah--Akbar (God is great),” Amrozi shouted twice, punching his fist in the air after the judge read his sentence for plotting, organising and carrying out crimes of terror in relation to the October 12 blasts on the famous resort island.
The verdict comes just two days after a car bomb killed 10 people at a hotel in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. That attack raised concerns more strikes might be planned by a shadowy southeast Asian network linked to al Qaida, which was blamed for the September 11 attacks.
Like other Bali suspects, Amrozi came under the sway of the teachings of Abu Bakar Bashir, alleged head of the Jemaah Islamiah network. Police have linked Bashir to the Bali blasts but not named him as a suspect. The cleric has denied wrongdoing. However, Amrozi said he did not belong to Jemaah Islamiah, which police blame for Bali and are already linking to Tuesday’s blast at the JW Marriott Hotel.
Chief judge I Made Karna told the court the Bali bombings were “actions beyond the bounds of humanity and outside any religious teachings”.
“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.