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Militant gets life in Bali bombings

JAKARTA, INDONESIA — JAKARTA, Indonesia - An Indonesian court sentenced an Islamic militant to life imprisonment yesterday for his role in the Bali bombings that killed 202 people last year, many of them foreign tourists.

The militant, Ali Imron, 33, an accused member of the Indonesian-based group Jemaah Islamiyah, was the only one of the defendants in the Bali case who had appeared to express remorse in court.

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The five-judge panel in Denpasar, the capital of Bali, said it had taken Imron's stated regrets into account but declined to hand down a 20-year sentence requested by the prosecution.

In the past month, two other defendants in the Bali attacks, Imam Samudra and Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, were sentenced to death.

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Unlike those two men, who often shouted in defiance in court, Imron sat impassively before the judges yesterday, his head bowed. He was dressed without any hint of Islamic attire, in a dark Western business suit, button-down blue shirt and tie.

"Ali Imron has been found guilty in a legal and convincing manner of terrorism," said Judge Mulyani, who read the verdict.

The judge took note of Imron's remorse, his help to the police in describing the planning of the attack, and his statements that he had instructed his family not to follow his path of violence.

"But his crime is extraordinary," the judge said. "Not only has he been responsible for killing 202 people but his crime has had far-reaching effects on the community."

Imron has been forthcoming to investigators on how the Oct. 12 attacks were organized and executed.

In a publicly televised re-enactment of the planning in February, soon after his arrest, Imron showed how he assembled the explosives and then drove a bomb-laden Mitsubishi van close to the targeted nightclub. He got out at the corner of the street where the Sari nightclub was located and left the final leg of driving to two accomplices, he told police.

Imron also demonstrated to television cameras how one of the accomplices in the van was a suicide bomber. The man, Iqbal, wore a vest packed with six plastic canisters of TNT and blew himself up inside a bar called Paddy's, Imron said.

The explosion at Paddy's occurred just before the main bombing across the street at Sari's where the dance floor was packed with Australian tourists.

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Imron told investigators that a much smaller bomb placed outside the U.S. Consulate in Bali was intended as a warning to America.

"We picked Bali because we wanted to target America and its allies," he said. As it turned out, 88 Australians and 6 Americans were among the dead.

Imron, who is described as a teacher of Islam, is the younger brother of Amrozi. The two brothers, as well as another brother, Ali Gufron, who is also charged in the Bali case, graduated from an Islamic high school in Lamongan, East Java.

The school is one of a handful identified by Indonesian investigators as teaching a militant form of Islam. Many members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a group dedicated to forming an Islamic state across a large swath of Southeast Asia, have graduated from these schools, known as pesantren.

After the Bali attack, Imron evaded arrest until January by seeking shelter in Islamic schools in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan that are sympathetic to the cause of Jemaah Islamiyah, which has been linked to al-Qaida.

The court's decision to ignore the prosecution's request for a lighter sentence showed the determination of the Indonesian authorities to give the maximum punishment, said Sidney Jones, an expert on Islam.

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Jones said Imron, with other Indonesians, trained in urban warfare and the use of explosives in Afghanistan in the 1990s.


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