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Bali Bombing Trial to Start Monday in Indonesia - 2003-05-10

Amrozi Bin Nurhasyim, a car mechanic, was the first suspect arrested after the Bali bombing, and is the first to go on trial. The indictment accuses him of purchasing the explosives and the van used in the bombings, and of "conspiring to commit an act of terrorism which took a heavy toll of human lives." He is being tried under emergency anti-terror laws passed by the Indonesian legislature in the wake of the bombing, and he faces the death penalty if convicted. At least 202 people died in Bali on October 12, when two bombs were detonated in a crowded tourist area.

Police say Mr. Amrozi confessed to his part in the attack, considered the worst terrorist incident in Indonesia's history. He has appeared on television, grinning and seemingly making light of the case. Police General Made Pastika says appearances can be deceiving. "Actually he is a very intelligent man. He's not that stupid as we think. He just graduate from Junior high school, but he's a mechanic. As an example, because there is no signal for the cellular phone in his village, he built antennas in order to communicate with other people - with his group, so you can imagine, he is smart," he says.

The investigators say the plot was the work of the militant Muslim group Jemaah Islamiyah, or JI. Several regional governments and the United States say JI is the Southeast Asian wing of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

But nowhere in the 51 page indictment of Mr. Amrozi is any link to JI mentioned. Analysts say that because he is likely a minor player in the bomb plot, prosecutors are probably using his trial to establish the basic facts of the case. They speculate that subsequent trials will link Mr. Amrozi's acts to other suspects up the chain of command, and possibly into JI itself.

The pre-trial period has revealed that to some extent, the Bali bombing was a family affair.

Two other suspects in custody, Ali Imron and Ali Ghufron, who is also known as Mukhlas, are Mr. Amrozi's brothers. They worked with the alleged mastermind of the plot, Imam Samudra, who is also in police custody awaiting trial.

Not all the bombing suspects have been captured, but Dino Djalal of the Foreign Ministry says the coming trials show that the Indonesian government is serious about fighting terrorism. "I think the biggest message resulting from the Bali bomb is that if you are a terrorist, you will get caught. No matter how smart you are, no matter where you hide, no matter how sophisticated you are, no matter who your friends are," he says.

Less than two weeks ago, Mr. Amrozi dropped his original defense team. Analysts say the trial might therefore be adjourned after the indictment is read on Monday, to give the new legal team time to prepare a defense.