Thursday, Sep 11, 2003
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By P. S. Suryanarayana
Even as the verdict was being handed down, the accused raised slogans purportedly rejoicing over his `martyrdom'. His counsel later revealed that Samudra would go in appeal against the judgment. Amrozi, another of the several accused in connection with the Bali bombings, was recently sentenced to death, and a few more cases are also heading towards decisive stages. The Indonesian authorities have traced the antecedents of almost all the accused in the terrorist havoc to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a South-East Asian outfit suspected to be a regional affiliate of the Al-Qaeda.
Just over a week ago, the JI's presumptive leader, Abubakar Baasyir (Bashir), was sentenced to a prison term by a Jakarta court on a count of treasonable offence. That verdict too is being appealed against, while Bashir continues to deny any links with JI. One of the key judicial findings in Imam Samudra's case, as announced by the Denpasar District Court judges was that he had held a series of meetings in various cities across Indonesia as a matter of follow-up action on the decisions believed to have been taken at the so-called "Bangkok meeting'' in Thailand in February last year.
The Bali bombings were a sequel to such planning. One of the judges characterised Imam Samudra's action as a crime against humanity and an extraordinary crime. It was also noted by the court that there were no mitigating circumstances in the case.
The significance of the verdicts in the Bali cases goes beyond the issue of retributive justice, given that a major regional conference, the summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will take place in Bali next month. India too will participate in a dialogue with the ASEAN at the highest political level on the occasion.One of the `legal' aspects of the Bali case trials relates to the sustainability of the penalties under Indonesia's anti-terror laws which were tightened only after the terrorist strike, which was the worst in magnitude after the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. The counter-argument is that the capital punishment being handed down should be seen against the severity of the "crime against humanity''.
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