Bali, Aug. 8 (Reuters): Indonesia’s “smiling bomber” told his lawyers today to appeal against the death sentence he was given for his role in last year’s Bali attacks despite saying during his trial he wanted to die a martyr.
Many Indonesians from street sellers to a presidential candidate cheered yesterday’s conviction by a court in Bali.
Amrozi, the 40-year-old mechanic-turned-militant, signed a document authorising his defence team to appeal the conviction, his lawyer, Mirzen, said.
Chief defence lawyer Wirawan Adnan said they would not argue that Amrozi was innocent but their appeal, which had to be lodged within seven days, would be on the grounds their client was denied due process.
Dubbed the smiling bomber for his chilling grin, Amrozi admitted buying the van that was later packed with explosives and detonated outside one of two nightclubs on the resort island in October 2002. The attack killed 202 people, many of them foreign tourists.
Legal experts have said any appeal against Amrozi’s verdict was likely to fail, due in part to immense pressure from a government keen to limit economic fallout from terror fears.
Indonesians lauded the death sentence, and one of the country’s most prominent Muslim leaders said convicted “terrorists” should have their punishment meted out immediately.
On the streets of Jakarta and Bali, some said the firing squad was too good for Amrozi, one of 38 Muslim militants arrested over the nightclub attacks.
Amien Rais, a top presidential contender for next year’s elections and a key Muslim leader, said those convicted of terror crimes should not be allowed to appeal and that separate courts should handle such crimes to speed up the process.
“I say with all seriousness that every terrorist who is proven to have carried out crimes against humanity immediately be given the punishment they deserve,” he said late yesterday. Britain and Australia, whose nationals accounted for more than half the Bali victims, have said they will not contest the sentence, although both have abolished capital punishment.
But a group of relatives representing British victims has said it will lobby Jakarta to reduce Amrozi’s sentence to life, fearing his execution would make him a martyr and spark more militant attacks. Many Indonesians seemed less concerned.
Choirul, a cigarette seller on a Jakarta street, reflected the horror at the attacks expressed by many moderate faithful in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. “Many victims of Bali died slowly, Amrozi should die slowly as well, rather than being shot. He should be cut to pieces,” he said.
After his sentence was announced, Amrozi swivelled his chair to the courtroom to face relatives of those killed, smiled broadly and made a thumbs-up sign with both hands.
That picture was plastered across newspapers today.
Sitting drinking tea on a rattan mat on Bali’s famous Kuta beach, Made Putra Yasa said he felt relieved. “I feel happy because he must die. If he lives he will make more bombs,” said the 22-year-old waiter.
The Jakarta Post described the ruling as “a new milestone in the country’s history of jurisprudence”. But the leading newspaper Tempo sounded a warning that repressive action might not succeed in the war on terror. “Amrozi’s two thumbs up shows we will never run out of militant people who are willing to become martyrs,” it said.
The verdict came just two days after a car bomb killed 10 people at a luxury hotel in Jakarta and coincided with fears that a shadowy southeast Asian network linked to al Qaida — Jemaah Islamiah — might be plotting further strikes.
Amrozi was the first of three dozen suspects to be tried for the world’s worst terror act since the September 2001 attacks.