Bali bombing 'mastermind' sentenced to death

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The "intellectual mastermind" of the Bali bombing was today sentenced to death by firing squad by an Indonesian court.

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

Samudra shouted "God is Great" after the verdict was read, while several people in courtroom cheered.

Samudra pumped his fist into the air as he was led out by police. "Go to hell, you infidels" and "Bush, Sharon," he yelled in English.

Earlier, Judge Ifa Sudewi said that "the defendant (played) a dominant role in the Bali bomb blasts and ... is the intellectual mastermind behind the Bali bomb explosions."

Samudra, aged 33, an Afghan-trained fighter, has said he wants to die as a martyr. But during the trial he denied the charges that he had commanded the group of militants who carried out the attack last October in which 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, died.

Prosecutors said Samudra selected the recruits and helped fund the attacks. His goal, they said, was to avenge the treatment of Muslims at the hands of the United States and Israel.

Almost half of the victims of the twin blasts were Australian tourists.

Reading through the summation of the trial, Judge Sudewi said Samudra had described the blasts as "revenge ... against the tyranny of America." She said Samudra had met Osama bin Laden during the three years he spent in Afghanistan.

Samudra's lawyers immediately said they would appeal against the sentence, claiming that he did not deserve to be put to death. They said Samudra's confession had been forcibly obtained by police.

"There was no justice in this case. He should not have gotten the death sentence," said his lawyer Qadar Faisal.

Death sentences in Indonesia are rare, but are allowed under a new anti-terror law adopted in the wake of the Bali attack. They are carried out by a firing squad of 15 paramilitary policemen.

Samudra is the second of 30 suspects arrested after the Bali attacks to be sentenced to death. Last month, his co-conspirator Amrozi bin Nurhasyim also received the death sentence.

The Bali attack is blamed on the Jemaah Islamiyah network which is said to operate throughout south-east Asia and has been linked to Al-Qa'ida. The network's commander, Riduan Isamuddin Hambali, was captured last month in Thailand and handed over to US custody.

Jemaah Islamiyah is also accused of directing last month's car bombing of a hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people. Several suspects have been arrested in connection with the blast, but none have been formally charged.

A court in Jakarta last week sentenced Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir — who Western governments say is one of the group's founders and its spiritual leader — to four years imprisonment for sedition, but acquitted him of heading Jemaah Islamiyah.