Indonesia said on Friday it would execute the three convicted Bali bombers early next month after years of delays, raising fears of a violent backlash from their radical Islamist supporters.
“The execution will be carried out in early November ... The decision is final,” attorney-general’s office spokesman Jasman Panjaitan said without providing an exact date.
Extremists Amrozi, 47, Mukhlas, 48, and Imam Samudra, 38, face a firing squad over the attacks on packed nightspots on the resort island of Bali, which killed 202 people, mainly foreign holidaymakers.
The members of militant group Jemaah Islamiyah were sentenced to death in 2003 but their execution has been repeatedly delayed by a string of failed appeals and religious considerations.
Australia, which lost 88 citizens in the bombings, responded to the announcement by warning against “demonstrations and acts of violence” by extremists in an online update to its travel advisory for Indonesia.
It advised Australians to avoid all unnecessary travel to Indonesia and warned against the “very high threat” of an attack.
The bombers’ last petition, against the use of the firing squad, was thrown out of the constitutional court earlier this week and Panjaitan said “all legal avenues” had now been cleared for the execution.
Most executions in Indonesia are carried out by firing squad at undisclosed locations in the middle of the night. Prisoners are normally notified at least 72 hours before they are shot. The bombers have expressed no regret for killing “infidels” and claim they are eager to die as “martyrs” for their radical view of Islam.
Paraded before the media at the island prison in southern Java earlier this month, they vowed their deaths would be avenged.
“If I’m executed there’ll be retribution. It’s not necessary for me to tell you what the retribution will be,” said Amrozi, known as the “smiling assassin” for his jovial court appearances.
Lawyers for the bombers condemned the government for failing to give an execution date.
“The announcement today is not firm or clear about the execution date, it could be anywhere between Nov. 1 and Nov. 10. We think they’re just playing for time,” lawyer Achmad Cholid said.
Police have stepped up security near Amrozi and Mukhlas’ village in East Java Province in anticipation of the execution, the Detikcom news Web site said.
Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the executions had to be “done at the right moment” after careful consideration, it reported.
Meanwhile police said investigations into five suspects arrested in Jakarta on Tuesday have led them to believe extremist networks are now more determined to destabilize the local economy than kill Westerners.
The cell was planning to blow up Jakarta’s main fuel depot and was connected to Abdullah Sunata, who was jailed in 2006 for protecting alleged Bali bomb mastermind Noordin Mohammad Top, they said.
“Their target has always been non-believers,” police Brigadier-General Bambang Hendarto Danuri told reporters.
“But we have seen now that they are also targeting anti-terror agencies and those with links to the economy, not only the interests of the US and its allies,” he said.
Malaysian extremist Noordin, who wants to create an Islamic caliphate across much of Southeast Asia, is still on the run with a 1 billion rupiah (US$102,000) price tag on his head.
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