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Bali planner sentenced to death

Mukhlas is the third defendant to be sentenced to death for the bombings.
Mukhlas is the third defendant to be sentenced to death for the bombings.

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An Indonesian court has sentenced Ali Ghufron, the co-ordinator of the Bali bombings, to death for his role in the terrorist attack.
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BALI, Indonesia (CNN) -- An Indonesian court has sentenced the coordinator of the Bali bombings to death for his role in the terrorist attack that killed 202 people.

Ali Ghufron, alias Mukhlas, was found guilty on Thursday of coordinating the attack, chairing planning meetings as well as the possession of explosives.

Mukhlas is the last of four lead suspects to go on trial for the attack. Two other militants, including Mukhlas' brother Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, have also been sentenced to death by firing squad. A third was given a life sentence.

Over a dozen others have received jail terms ranging from seven to 16 years for their part in the bombings.

Like Amrozi and another key player, Imam Samudra, who received death sentences, Mukhlas previously said the death penalty would make him a martyr.

Observers and many relatives of victims have expressed displeasure at the handing down of the death sentence at the trials, saying that it encourages martyrdom among Islamic extremists. Others, however, say the penalty is barely justice for the brutality of the attacks.

Significant

Mukhlas was regarded as the most significant suspect after admitting to judges he was the operations chief of Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

The 43-year-old Islamic teacher also confessed to traveling to Afghanistan in the 1980s and fighting alongside Osama bin Laden.

Mukhlas was calm as the verdict was handed down on Thursday, but told judges he would appeal.

"The verdict is not in line with Islamic teachings," he said.

During the trial, Mukhlas showed no remorse for the attacks and, like several other suspects, used his court appearances to lash out at the United States.

He called U.S. President George Bush a terrorist and said the Bali attacks were carried out to avenge the suffering of Muslims by America and Israel.

The Bali bombings have been blamed on JI -- the regional arm of bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network.

JI is also believed to have been behind the suicide car bombing of Jakarta's Marriott hotel on August 5 that killed 12 people.

At least a dozen suspects in the Marriott attack have been detained but no charges have been laid.

JI's alleged commander, Riduan Isamuddin Hambali, is in U.S. custody after he was captured in August in Thailand.

The groups alleged spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Ba'aysir, was sentenced last month to four years jail for sedition. The court, however, acquitted him on charges of heading JI -- much to the dismay of western governments.


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