Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Decision of Jakarta court stuns Taufik

The Star

JAKARTA: Malaysian Taufik Abdul Halim was sentenced to death yesterday for the bombing of a shopping mall in the Indonesian capital.

In a decision that stunned lawyers and prosecutors, a panel of three Indonesian judges of the Central Jakarta court convicted Taufik of taking part in the bombing of the Atrium mall in the crowded Senen business area in Jakarta on Aug 1 last year.

"The defendant has been legally and convincingly proven guilty" of violating an emergency law banning the use of explosives, chief judge Panusunan Harahap told the court.

Clad in yellow shirt, dark brown pants and a kopiah, Taufik was pale when hearing the death sentence. His eyes were red.

He seemed to lose his emotion but in three or four minutes he tried to regain his calm.

Both Taufik and his lawyer Duni Nirbayati immediately decided to appeal.

Taufik, who used to live in Johor Baru, did not talk much to the throng of reporters covering his trial.

He just said that he was going to appeal. "Let's see the result," he said.

Duni Nirbayati, however, refused to speculate whether political factor might be behind the sentence.

Indonesia is widely seen to be rather slow when dealing with the US- led war on terrorism.

The 27-year-old Taufik illegally entered Indonesia with eight other Malaysians in June 2000.

He initially travelled to the Moluccas islands in eastern Indonesia to be involved in a jihad against Indonesian Christians in the area.

Taufik moved to Jakarta earlier last year.

He said his group was also involved in the bombing of two Christian churches one week prior to the mall bombing.

He, however, insisted he was only carrying the bomb at the Atrium mall on Aug 1 and waiting for further instructions when the bomb accidentaly exploded near his legs.

His right leg had to be amputated because of the blast.

Several people were injured in the blast but nobody was killed.

Prosecutor Ikhwanul Saragih last month demanded that the court sentence Taufik to 20 years' imprisonment.

Saragih said yesterday he did not expect the judges to deliver a death sentence.

Another defendant of the mall bombing, Edi Sutiono, was also scheduled to have the verdict on him delivered later.

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