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Militant Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for 2005 Bali Bombing


An Indonesian court has sentenced a man to 15 years in prison for his role in triple bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2005. This is the fourth sentence handed down for the bombings, which killed 20 people and wounded more than 150 others.

The court in Bali found Anif Solchanudin guilty Thursday of helping to plan the three suicide bombings.

During his trial, the 24-year-old mobile phone salesman admitted he volunteered, and was trained to carry out a suicide bomb attack, but he denied knowing about plans for the attacks on three crowded restaurants on the island.

The court found Solchanudin guilty of harboring one of the alleged architects of the attacks, Noordin Mohammad Top, and of possessing explosives.

Prosecutors had asked for a 10-year sentence.

Rohan Gunaratna is head of terrorism research at the Singapore-based Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies. Gunaratna says Indonesia needs to hand down harsh sentences for terrorists.

"The criminal and justice and prison system should set a standard and a deterrent, so that people will not join such groups, and will not participate and assist members of these groups," he said.

Solchanudin is the last of four militants sentenced in the past two weeks for their roles in the 2005 attacks.

Muhammad Cholily received 18 years in jail for helping to assemble the bombs.

Dwi Widyarto and Abdul Aziz each were given eight years in prison. Both were convicted of harboring Top, one of the planners of the attacks. Widyarto was also found guilty of distributing a videotape of Top threatening Western countries and Aziz for creating a Web site that called on Muslims to attack Westerners.

Gunaratna says Indonesia needs to increase penalties to deter people from supporting terrorists.

"Indonesia's judicial system has come under serious criticism because of the lenient sentencing, and also the lack of robust counter-terrorism law," he said. "The Indonesian justice system must be reformed and revamped, and fresh counterterrorism laws must be introduced."

Indonesian police say another Islamic extremist, Azahari Husin, helped Top plan the 2005 Bali attacks.

Azahari and Top were key members of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror network. Azahari was killed in a shootout with police last year, but Top remains at large.

Gunaratna says he believes Top will attempt another terrorist attack in Indonesia.

Jemaah Islamiyah members also were responsible for earlier bombings in Bali. Explosions in two nightclubs in 2002 killed 202 people, many of them tourists. Since then, Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, has arrested or convicted more than 100 militants.