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Bali Verdict Delivers Comfort to Some Australians - 2003-08-12

The first guilty verdict against one of the Bali bombers has provided some comfort to those in Australia whose lives were torn apart by the attack last year. Among the 202 people who died in the blast were 88 Australians. Their friends and relatives - along with hundreds of injured survivors - live with the pain of that terrible night last October. There will be more emotional times ahead as the rest of those accused in the attack face court.

Almost 10 months after the October 12 terror attack on Bali, many of its survivors endure physical and emotional pain, a reminder of that bleak moment on the Indonesian island.

Therese Fox suffered burns to 85 percent of her body. She was the last of Australia's Bali casualties to leave the hospital but still needs daily treatment.

Ms. Fox, the mother of two young children, thinks her prospects are slowly improving. "Medically, I've been through nearly 20 operations, endless skin grafts, it's been hell," she says. "Only now am I starting to have good days where I can see some hope for my future."

Last year, doctors warned her chances of survival were not good. Therese's mother, Dawn Fox, has rarely left her side during the months of painful treatment.

For many of the Bali victims, there is relief at the guilty verdict against Amrozi bin Nurhaysim, for his part in planning and carrying out the attack that killed 202 people. In the first trial of the Bali suspects, Amrozi was convicted and sentenced to death last week.

Dawn Fox says Amrozi deserves a lifetime suffering in prison rather than the death penalty.

"I just hope that he spends every day in jail and that he has to wonder, as all of Therese's family had to wonder, "Will I die today or will it be tomorrow?."" " And I want him to think will that hopelessness surrounding him so that he has some perhaps idea of what he has put the people of Australia through, the parents, the children, the loved ones," she says.

Another Australian survivor, Phil Britten, who was badly burned in the Bali attack. His recovery has been slow and painful but a few weeks ago he returned to play for the Kingsley Australian Rules Football Club in Perth. The team was on a tour in Bali last October, marking the end of their season. Seven players were killed in the blast.

Earlier this year, Mr. Britten traveled to the court in Bali to see Amrozi go on trial. The bomber's lack of contrition has infuriated the nation - the Australian media referred to the Indonesian mechanic as the "Smiling Assassin."

Like many survivors, Mr. Britten can never forgive nor forget the misery Amrozi caused. "If he can smile, I'm pretty sure it's a fake smile. When I was in the courtroom, you could see them fidgeting, shaking. I just hate them. They changed my life," he says. "They've changed so many Australians' lives, Indonesians' as well, and I'll never be the same person, ever."

The Bali bombing was the biggest single tragedy in Australia since World War II. And it thrust the nation and its people to the front-line of international terrorism for the first time.