Wed, May 19, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Indonesian sentenced in Marriott hotel bombing


An Indonesian court yesterday sentenced a Muslim militant to seven years in prison for helping the bombers who attacked Jakarta's Marriott hotel last year.

The judges cleared Muhammad Rais of the primary charges of planning and executing an act of terrorism. But they found him guilty of having facilitated an act of terrorism -- the blast on Aug. 5 last year that left 11 Indonesians and a Dutch banker dead at the American-run JW Marriott hotel. Scores were injured.

"The defendant has been proven to have legally and convincingly provided assistance for a crime of terrorism ... and ordered the insertion of false information into legal documents," said Yohannes Binti, who headed the panel of judges at the South Jakarta district court.

The false information related to the issuance of Rais's identity card and a passport by authorities in Tanjung Pinang, Kepulauan Riau Province, near Singapore.

Binti said the time Rais has spent in detention would be deducted from the prison term.

Both Rais and the prosecutors asked for time to decide whether to appeal.

In their ruling, the three judges said the defendant had transported explosives which were later used in the hotel bomb attack.

Rais claimed during the trial that he did not have prior knowledge of the bombing and denied that he helped plan it.

He wept when he saw harrowing images of the blast victims, to whom he apologized.

Rais, who admitted he belonged to the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) extremist group, urged fellow JI members to forgo violence. He told judges the attack was against his principles of jihad, or holy war.

The hotel attack, the Bali nightclub bombings which killed 202 people in October 2002 and a string of other blasts are blamed by police on JI.

Rais has said he transported the explosives at the request of his brother-in-law, Malaysian terrorism suspect Noordin Mohammad Top. Noordin and compatriot Azahari Husin, a former university professor, are wanted for both the Bali and Marriott bombings.

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