Lawyer for Indonesian terrorism suspect rejects murder charge

Story highlights

  • The defense says Umar Patek was not involved in planning the Bali attacks
  • Patek has been one of Indonesia's most wanted terrorists
  • His trial on charges related to the Bali bombing began last week in Jakarta
  • Patek was seized in the same Pakistani city where Osama bin Laden was killed
The lawyer for Umar Patek, an Indonesian man accused of assembling the bombs used in the 2002 Bali attacks, argued Monday that his client was not directly involved in the planning of the bombings, contesting a murder charge from prosecutors.
Patek faces several charges including premeditated murder, which carries the death penalty if he is convicted. The bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali killed 202 people, including foreign tourists.
The 44-year-old Patek was one of Indonesia's most wanted terrorists, with a $1 million bounty on his head from the U.S. government's "Rewards for Justice" program.
He doesn't deny helping assemble the bombs used in the Bali attack but was unaware how they would ultimately be used, said his lawyer, Asludin Hatjani.
The prosecution's charges are "vague and far from the truth," Hatjani said Monday after appearing in court. The defense is also arguing that an anti-terrorism law introduced in Indonesia in 2003 cannot be used retroactively for the 2002 attacks.
Prosecutors have used several articles under the penal code, the emergency rule law and the 2003 anti-terrorism law to charge Patek.
After almost a decade on the run, Patek was arrested on January 25, 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A few months after his capture, U.S. Navy SEALs found and killed al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani city. Patek was extradited to Indonesia in August.
He had been planning to travel from Pakistan to Afghanistan, his lawyer said.
Patek's trial, which is expected to go on for months, began last week. It adjourned Monday for another week.
Indonesian authorities allege that Patek admitted his role in the Bali attacks to investigators, saying he helped assemble the explosives.
He also faces charges of bringing in illegal weapons; giving weapons and explosives training; and planning and assembling explosives for church bombings in Jakarta in 2000.
Patek is one of the last figures associated with a splinter group of the terror network Jemaah Islamiyah, responsible for the Bali bombings and other major attacks on Indonesian soil.
Many in that group, like Patek, trained and fought in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the early 1990s and were deeply influenced by bin Laden's teachings.
Three of the masterminds of the Bali bombings -- Imam Samudra, Amrozi bin Nurhasyim and Ali Ghufron -- were executed in 2008.
Patek fled to Mindanao in the southern Philippines with several other Indonesian militants. One of them was Dulmatin, another former JI member, who returned to Indonesia and helped set up a military-style training camp in province of Aceh. He was killed in a police raid just outside Jakarta in October 2010.
Patek returned to Indonesia from the Philippines in 2009. Prosecutors allege he was involved in preparing firearms for the Aceh training camp, a charge the defense disputes.
"Patek was only in transit in Indonesia and was not involved in training of firearms," said Hatjani. "He was there to attend a wedding and he didn't even see the firearms."
Indonesian authorities have tried and convicted hundreds of terrorists since the 2002 Bali bombings. The arrests of senior militants with combat experience have weakened the terror network and its capability to launch major attacks.
According to recent reports by the International Crisis Group, the terror threat in the country remains but has shifted to attacks on Indonesian authorities, with smaller groups or radicalized individuals targeting the police.