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Bali 'mastermind' sentenced to die

Samudra has earlier told his lawyers he would welcome the death sentence.
Samudra has earlier told his lawyers he would welcome the death sentence.

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Acts of terror
Bali (Indonesia)
Imam Samudra

DENPASAR, Indonesia -- A court in Indonesia has sentenced to death a second key suspect in last October's Bali nightclub bombings.

The sentence against Imam Samudra was passed after the court in the Balinese capital, Denpasar, found him guilty of being the "intellectual mastermind" behind the attacks.

"Imam Samudra has been clearly proven to have planned a terrorist act, and we hand down the sentence of death," Judge Wayan Sugawa said, delivering the verdict of the panel of five judges.

After hearing the verdict Samudra raised his fist and shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) before being led by officials from the courtroom.

Samudra, who trained as a fighter in Afghanistan, had previously said he would welcome the death penalty and was prepared to die as a martyr.

Executions in Indonesia are carried out by a 15-man firing squad drawn from paramilitary police officers.

Samudra's lawyers have said they will file an appeal against the verdict.

The Bali bombings were the deadliest terrorist act since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The almost simultaneous blasts on October 12 last year left 202 dead -- most of them young tourists enjoying a night out -- and injured scores of people.

Eighty-eight Australians were among the dead and Wednesday's sentencing was "warmly welcomed" by the nation, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.

"The Indonesians are sending out a very strong message that if you become involved in acts of terror then in those circumstances you risk your life," Downer said.

High alert

During the trial the prosecution said Samudra, 33, commanded the group that carried out the attacks, selected the recruits and helped arrange funding.

According to police Samudra initially confessed to his role in the attacks and took pride in killing foreign holidaymakers.

However, he retracted his statement during his trial saying instead he went to Bali last October to open an Internet cafe.

Indonesian officials say Samudra also helped plan the bombings of 24 churches in Indonesia on December 24, 2000, which killed 19 people and injured more than 100, as well as the bombing of a Jakarta shopping mall on August 1, 2001.

Police in Bali and the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, are on high alert amid fears the verdict could spark retaliatory attacks.

Last month, judges imposed the death penalty on Amrozi, the first suspect arrested for the attacks.

That sentence was welcomed by many as a sign of the Indonesian government's determination to stamp out militant Islam.

However, several survivors and relatives of victims expressed concerns that executing those guilty of carrying out the blasts would only create martyrs and fuel further attacks.

In all, more than 30 suspects have been arrested in connection with the Bali attacks.

Investigators say almost all of them have close ties with the al Qaeda-linked regional terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the group thought to have provided the inspiration for the attacks.

Last week a court in Jakarta cleared radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir of charges that he was JI's spiritual leader, but found him guilty of lesser charges of forgery and plotting to overthrow the government.

Ba'asyir himself denied throughout his trial that JI even existed, but prosecutors say they plan to appeal the case, reiterating their primary charge that he was indeed the group's leader.

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