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Last Updated: Monday, 12 May, 2003, 05:08 GMT 06:08 UK
Bali bombing trial opens
Amrozi is being escorted by police into a court room in Denpasar
Amrozi faces the death penalty

The first person to be charged in connection with the bomb explosions on the Indonesian island of Bali last October has gone on trial amid massive police security.

More than 200 people, foreigners and Indonesians, died in the bomb blasts which destroyed a bar and a nightclub.

The defendant - known as Amrozi - has been charged with four counts of terrorism under Indonesian legislation passed in the wake of the Bali attack.

Let's just kill him. He killed our friends after all
Balinese resident

So far, 29 people have been arrested in connection with the bombings.

Amrozi is the first suspect to face the courts.

Massive security

About 3,000 police officers have been deployed for the trial in the Balinese capital, Denpasar.

A grim-looking Amrozi - dressed in a brown shirt and slacks - was brought into the court compound by a convoy of four armoured police vans.

Two police officers then led him to his seat in front of a five-judge panel in the packed courtroom.

The presiding judge began proceedings by asking Amrozi a series of questions about his age, religion and whether he had a criminal record.

Prosecutors than began reading a 33-page indictment.

A 40-year-old old car mechanic from a quiet village in east Java, Amrozi is alleged to have bought the chemicals used to make the bombs and the van used to transport them.

The indictment charges him with:

  • conspiring to commit terror
  • resorting to violence
  • destruction of property
  • damaging public utilities.

He is expected to plead not guilty to all charges.

If found guilty, Amrozi faces the death penalty.

Amrozi's lawyer, Wirawan Adnan, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that his client was "prepared for the worst".

"We told him that the maximum sentence is death," the lawyer added.

The case was adjourned until next week to give the prosecution time to respond to defence lawyers' objections.

The trial is expected to last several months.

Raw emotions

Outside the court, local people watched proceedings on live television.

Every time Amrozi appeared on screen, they jeered and threw pieces of rolled up newspaper at his image.

Some of relatives and friends of the Bali victims could hardly contain their anger.

"I was furious," 35-year-old Wayan Sumerta was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

"I had to come and see him in the flesh. Let's just kill him. He killed our friends after all."

Seven months on from the devastating bomb blast, emotions here are still raw, says the BBC's Rachel Harvey, in Denpasar.

Painful memories

Three bombs exploded on 12 October 2002 - the first outside the American consulate in Denpasar caused only limited damage.

Balinese Hindus pray in a purification ceremony
Local people have performed purification ceremonies

But the bombs inside Paddy's Bar and outside the Sari night club in one of Bali's most popular tourist night spots, left 202 people dead.

Among the victims were many foreign tourists.

Australia suffered the greatest number of casualties, with 88 Australian nationals losing their lives.

Thirty-eight Indonesians, 23 Britons, nine Swedes, seven Americans, six Germans and four Dutch nationals also lost their lives.

In all, citizens from 21 countries were killed in the blasts.

The police investigation which followed has uncovered a network of Islamic extremists operating in South East Asia.

Evidence presented in the trial of Amrozi could reveal details about the extent of that network.

But the BBC's Rachel Harvey says it will almost certainly also evoke some very painful memories for those who survived the horrors of the bombing seven months ago.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jonathan Head
"There's a palpable sense of relief here"



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