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Key Bali Bombing Suspect Takes the Stand - 2003-07-14

One of the leading suspects in last October's terror bombing in Bali, Indonesia has begun his defense. Amrozi did not deny buying the explosives and trying to blame the United States and Israel for the devastating attack.

Self-confessed Bali bomber Amrozi is the first suspect to take the stand in his own defense. Appearing in the Bali courtroom Monday, Amrozi read a statement admitting he had bought chemicals to make a bomb and a minivan to carry it. But he says he does not believe that the huge blast, which killed more than 200 people and tore the heart out of Bali's tourist district, could have been caused by the materials he supplied.

"Because of that I wouldn't blame people who said it was produced by a nuclear bomb, and this could only be done by countries like America and Israel, the country of the Jews, and countries like that which have instruments of detection like satellites," said Amrozi.

Amrozi says while he intended to carryout the bombing - it was bigger than he planned. He says that he wouldn't be surprised if the blast was caused by a nuclear device and goes on to surmise that the only countries that could have done this are the United States and Israel, although he fails to explain how or why they might have done so.

Amrozi also denied being part of Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional terrorist group that has been blamed for the Bali bomb and a number of other terrorist plots in Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. He says he had not heard of the organization until after his arrest.

He asked the five judges to take into account the positive as well as the negative results of the bombing. He says that places of worship were empty while bars, clubs and casinos were full, and that the bombing had brought people back to religion.

The judges are expected to issue their verdict next month.

Amrozi faces death by firing squad if he is found guilty. Only one of the suspected bombers, Amrozi's younger brother Ali Imron, has shown any remorse for the carnage for which many of them have already admitted responsibility.

Indonesian police have detained more than 30 people on suspicion of involvement in the bombing. Just last week they took seven more suspected Islamic militants into custody and seized enough explosives to make a device more destructive than the Bali bomb.

Although dozens of suspected senior members of Jemaah Islamiyah have been arrested over the past year, analysts warn that the organization is still capable of launching more attacks like the one in Bali.