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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
Bali bomb 'had positive aspects'
Amrozi arriving at the Jakarta courtroom
Amrozi could face the death penalty
A key Bali bombing suspect has said the attack had "positive aspects" because they encouraged people to re-embrace religion and weakened the corrupting influence of foreign tourists.

Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, who was giving evidence at his own trial, has admitted buying the explosives and the minivan used in last October's blast, which killed 202 people.

But the 40-year-old mechanic denied that the attack was the work of the regional militant Muslim group, Jemaah Islamiah, as is suspected by police.

Seven suspected JI members were arrested in Indonesia last week. On Monday, a small blast hit the country's parliament, although it caused no casualties. It was not clear who was responsible.

Amrozi said "places of sin" such as nightclubs were now quieter as a result of the Bali blasts, which destroyed the Sari Club and Paddy's Bar, in Kuta.

"With this incident, God willing, many people realise that they had forgotten God and neglected their worship and avoided places of worship so that mosques became empty, churches became deserted, monasteries and temples also became empty without occupants or visitors," he said.

"Often things we don't like are in fact good for us," he added.

Amrozi, whom the Australian press dubbed the "laughing bomber" after he appeared, giggling, before the media shortly after his arrest, reportedly appeared serious as he read from a 15-page defence plea.

He repeated that he felt "forced" by police to admit to taking part in planning meetings for the attacks during lengthy interrogation sessions.

His defence lawyers, reading their own plea, said Amrozi may have purchased the chemicals for the bombs but was certainly not a planner of the attack.

Their client could face the death penalty if convicted on terrorism charges.

More than 30 suspects have been arrested in connection with the 12 October attack on two nightclubs in Bali.

Amrozi's older brother, Mukhlas, has also admitted a role in the Bali attacks.

But last week, Mukhlas told the court during his trial that police interrogators had tortured him into making that confession.


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