News / Asia

    Indonesian Terror Suspect Goes on Trial

    Indonesian militant Abdulah Sunata reads the Quran in a cell at a courthouse before a trial in Jakarta, Dec. 29, 2005 (FILE).
    Indonesian militant Abdulah Sunata reads the Quran in a cell at a courthouse before a trial in Jakarta, Dec. 29, 2005 (FILE).

    One of Indonesia's top militant suspects went on trial on multiple terrorism charges Wednesday. Prosecutors say Abdullah Sunata helped militants plotting to assassinate senior officials and attack Western hotels and embassies in Jakarta.  

    So they asked for the harshest penalty - death - on the opening day of his trial. Prosecutor Asep Aminuddin spelled out the charges to the East Jakarta district court.

    "The defendant has done evil conspiracy, attempted to commit criminal acts of terrorism by intentionally using violence or threats of violence, including to create an atmosphere of terror or fear on people widely," Aminuddin told the court.

    Sunata is no stranger to Indonesia's justice system. He spent time in prison for his role in an attack on the Australian embassy that killed 10 people in 2004.  He was granted an early release for good behavior last year, but that freedom was short-lived. Sunata was detained in June in a series of police raids in Central Java.

    He now stands accused of purchasing thousands of dollars worth of weapons for a militant group known as al-Qaida in Aceh. Sunata also is said to have met frequently with Dulmatin, the mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings, who was killed by police in March.

    Sunata denies any wrongdoing. "None of it is true. I do not know that.... I did not do it," he told reporters after Wednesday's court proceedings.

    Terrorist experts say al-Qaida in Aceh is less radical than other terrorist cells, and that it justified violent attacks against anyone who stood in the way of of establishing Islamic law.

    A string of deadly bombings threatened Indonesia's security earlier this decade, but renewed counterterrorism efforts in recent years have kept the country relatively peaceful. That calm period ended last July with the bombing of two Jakarta hotels.

    Since then, Indonesian authorities have stepped up efforts to counter Islamic extremism. Sunata is one of more than 80 people arrested or killed since police discovered al-Qaida in Aceh's training camp earlier this year. His trial resumes next week.

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