Terror trial of accused Bali bomber starts Monday

February 9, 2012 - 10:05 AM

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian accused of making the explosives used in the 2002 Bali bombings is scheduled to go on trial next week on terrorism and murder charges, a court official said Thursday.

Umar Patek, 41, was Asia's most wanted terror suspect with a $1 million bounty on his head when authorities caught up with him Jan. 25, 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan — the same town where Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. commando attack four months later.

He will be tried at the West Jakarta District Court beginning Monday, said court spokesman Mirdin Alamsyah. Another court official, Ricar Nasution, said the five-judge panel would be led by the court's chief, Lexsy Mamoto.

Patek was extradited last August, and Indonesian officials say he confessed to being a key participant in the bombings on Bali island, Southeast Asia's deadliest terror attack, which killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

He has admitted to help assemble the 2,250-pound (1,020-kilogram) bomb that was hidden inside a van and exploded just before midnight, flattening two nightclubs and leaving a deep crater.

He also admitted to making the bombs used in Christmas Eve attacks on churches in 2000 that killed 19 people, authorities said.

Patek, whose real name is Hisyam Bin Alizein and who has several aliases, could face death by firing squad if convicted of various terror-related charges and premeditated murder.

Ashluddin Hatjani, one of his lawyers, said based on the indictment to be submitted by the prosecutors, Patek would be charged under both the harsh anti-terror law and the criminal code.

"On the terror law, the charges range from hiding information about terrorism to illegal possession of explosives and evil conspiracy to commit terrorism," Hatjani told the Associated Press. The charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

"While under the criminal code, he will be charged with premeditated murder" which carries a maximum of the death penalty, Hatjani said. Some 10 lawyers are defending him.

Patek is believed to have valuable intelligence about al-Qaida and links with its Southeast Asia affiliate, Jemaah Islamiyah, blamed for the Bali bombings and all other major attacks in Indonesia.

Three of the masterminds of the Bali attacks — Imam Samudra, and brothers Amrozi Nurhasyim and Ali Ghufron — were executed in late 2008.

Patek fled to the Philippines after the Bali bombings and allegedly collaborated with Abu Sayyaf in training militants and plotting attacks, including against American troops. He returned to Indonesia in 2009, making contacts and training militants, before going to Pakistan in August 2010, authorities say.

Many of the Bali bombing suspects have been convicted and were killed during a police raid in 2010. Patek is believed to be the last key suspect in the attack.

(This version CORRECTS court spokesman's first name.)