Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Bali: Execution closer for bombing leaders

Three men on death row for organising the 2002 bombings in Bali are one step closer to death following the rejection of their final appeals, but their lawyers are preparing to delay the executions as long as possible.

Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, Imam Samudra and Mukhlas (also known as Ali Ghufron) were convicted in 2003 for the bombings in Kuta, Bali, which killed 202 people.

The men had apealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the anti-terrorism law under which they were convicted was only passed after the bombings took place. In August and September the Supreme Court rejected their appeals.

"The verdicts say that the judges rejected the judicial review by the appellants Mukhlas and Imam Samudra and upheld the decisions by the previous courts," Supreme Court spokesman Nurhadi said in late September. An earlier court decision rejected Amrozi's appeal.

According to a BBC report, a court official said the men had provided no new evidence to challenge their convictions.

Supreme Court judge Djoko Sarwoko said there were no more legal procedures to delay the Attorney-General from setting an execution date.

Delays ahead?
However, as with earlier stages of these cases, there is now likely to be a period of delays and confusion, with the men saying they would not make further appeals on religious grounds, their lawyers indicating they would prepare for an appeal and government officials saying they were preparing to carry out the executions.

In early October Achmad Michdan, head lawyer of the Islamic Defence Team, said he would drag the process out as long as he could.

"We will lodge another appeal and ask that a proper examination of it be conducted," he said.

The government has said it would not execute the three until they had waived their right to seek presidential clemency.

"There must be a request for clemency - and if there is not, there must be a written statement that they really don't want clemency. We don't have that yet," Attorney-General Hendarman Supandji said.

The Indonesian government and the men's lawyers will also be watching closely for tthe Constitutional Court's decision in the case of three Australian convicted drug traffickers. The three have mounted a challenge to their death sentences, arguing the death penalty violates the right to life enshrined in the country's constitution.

The court's decision is reportedly expected in late October.

Making martyrs
None of the trio has expressed remorse over the attacks and they have repeatedly told journalists they welcome their execution.

After his appeal was rejected Mukhlas reportedly told a local journalist he was looking forward to his execution.

"This is the most wonderful moment for us because soon we will become martyrs," Mukhlas said.

According to an AFP report, a lawyer for the men said earlier this month that they were ready to die after signing a last statement reportedly vowing their deaths would lead to "hell for infidels".

"If we are executed, then the jets and drops of our blood will, God willing, become a ray of light for Muslims and become hell for infidels and hypocrites," said an extract from their statement published in the Koran Tempo.

In 2003 Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty warned on ABC's Four Corners program that executing the men would turn them into martyrs and may further their cause.

"If you think about the motivation and the end gain for some of these terrorists, I mean by prosecuting them and giving them the death penalty might actually be serving them up exactly what they need to be, martyrs," Mr Keelty said.

Human rights appeal
Amnesty International has issued an urgent action appeal encouraging its supporters to write to the Indonesian government appealing for the sentences not to be carried out.

The appeal calls on the Indonesian government to immediately halt preparations for the executions and commute their sentences to life imprisonment.

It expresses "concern that the Law on Combating Criminal Acts of Terrorism, under which these men were sentenced to death, was applied retroactively to include all those involved in the Bali bombings, violating international criminal law and the Indonesian Constitution".

The appeal also calls on the government to commute the death sentences imposed on all of the estimated 99 people on the country's death row.

The human rights organisation said it "recognises the need to address serious crime, including murder, but is convinced that the death penalty does not provide a solution".

"There is no clear evidence that the death penalty deters crime any more effectively than other forms of punishment.

"Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unreservedly in all cases."

Related stories:
Bali bombers lodge appeals -- 08 December, 2006
Execution delay for Bali bombers -- 21 August, 2006
Bali bombers closer to execution -- 11 April, 2006

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