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Imam Samudra Formally Charged in Bali Bombings

Indonesian prosecutors have formally charged the alleged mastermind of last year's terrorist bombing on Bali - which killed 202 mostly foreign tourists. Imam Samudra is also a suspected top operative for Jemaah Islamiyah - the regional al-Qaida-linked terrorist group blamed for the Bali attack.

Indonesian prosecutors say the death penalty could be imposed should they convict Imam Samudra for planning October's Bali bombings. He has been charged under Indonesia's anti-terror law - passed in the wake of the deadly attacks - and is to go on trial in June.

Police say - the 33 year-old computer expert who learned his bomb-making skills in Afghanistan - confessed shortly after his arrest in November. He also claimed responsibility before reporters and showed no remorse.

Authorities also charge Imam Samudra is a leader of Jemaah Islamiyah - a regional militant network believed to be linked to the al-Qaida terrorist organization. JI, as the group is known, wants to build an Islamic state spanning several Southeast Asian countries. The Bali bombing, police say, was one of several bombings the group carried out in Indonesia.

Mr. Samudra is also charged in connection to bombings in the province of Riau in 2000 and with theft as a means to finance the Bali plan.

At least 202 people died when two bombs tore through a crowded Bali tourist district on October 12. Police say the first was detonated inside a bar, in order to draw attention to the area, when a van packed with explosives was blown up on the street. Mr. Samudra is the second of 33 Bali bombing suspects to go on trial.

The trial of Amrozi bin Nurhasyim opened earlier this month in Bali. Authorities say Mr. Amrozi confessed to buying the van and the chemicals used to make the car bomb. He too faces a possible death penalty. Separately, the alleged spiritual chief of JI, Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir is currently on trial in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. Mr. Bashir is charged with involvement in several terror plots, including a foiled plan to bomb Western interests in Singapore. However, he has not been charged in connection to the Bali bombing.