Tue, Aug 22, 2006 - Page 1 News List

`Bali bombers' get stay of execution

LAST GASP Although Amrozi Nurhasyim, Ali Gufron and Imam Samudra confessed to their roles in the 2002 attack, their executions, set for tomorrow, have been delayed


Indonesia has delayed the executions of three Islamic militants convicted for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people after the men said they wanted to file a final appeal, officials said yesterday.

Amrozi Nurhasyim, Ali Gufron and Imam Samudra were among more than 30 people convicted in the twin nightclub bombings on the resort island, which officials say were carried out by the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror group.

They confessed to the crime but last month authorized lawyers to file a final appeal, known as a judicial review, averting today's planned execution by firing squad, said I Wayan Pasek Suarta, spokesman for the attorney general.

"We have to respect the rights of the convicts because they have informed us that they want to file a final appeal ... so the execution cannot be carried out," he said.

No new date was immediately announced.

The suicide bombings, which killed mostly foreign tourists, were followed by annual terrorist attacks in the world's most populous Muslim nation blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah that together killed another 40 people. After a second round of bombings on Bali last year, the government agreed to speed up the executions of Nurhasyim, Gufron and Samudra amid concerns they still wielded influence over other militants.

But lawyers for the three argued that the anti-terror law used to convict them was applied retroactively.

While the militants have signed a request for a judicial review, they have not yet presented it to the Supreme Court, lawyer Muhammad Mahendradatta said. They were waiting to hear if a change of venue request for their review trial had been granted, he said, claiming Bali's district court in Denpasar was biased against them.

In the past, the three defendants have said they wanted to die and become martyrs for their cause. None has expressed regret for the attacks. Samudra, who is said to have coordinated the blasts, has defended them in a book as a legitimate part of a holy war against the West.

Analysts say the timing of the executions may be linked to those of three Christian militants on death row for their roles in sectarian violence on Sulawesi island six years ago that left 200 Muslims dead.

They say it would be politically difficult for the government to execute the Bali bombers before placing the Christians -- who represent a minority in Indonesia -- before a firing squad.

The Christian men won a last-minute stay of execution earlier this month and while Indonesian officials insist the executions will eventually go forward, no new date has been set.

The government has denied a link between the timing of the separate executions.

The father of an Australian man killed in the Bali bombings welcomed the delay. Brian Deegan, whose 21-year-old son Josh died in the attack, wrote to Amnesty International last week requesting that Indonesia spare the men's lives.

"From a legal point of view, I am happy about the decision because everyone has the same rights as everyone else regardless of the crime so their right to appeal should be respected," Deegan said. "The only downside is that this for me delays the grieving process. I just wish it could be all put to rest so that I could put it behind me."

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