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1st Bali Bombing Trial Opens in Indonesia - 2003-05-12

The first person accused of involvement in last October's deadly bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali has gone on trial. More than 200 people died in the blasts, which were considered the worst terrorist attack in Indonesia's history.

A prosecutor is reading the indictment against Amrozi bin Nurhaysim, which accuses him of "conspiring to commit a criminal act of terrorism, causing terror to people on a wide scale or taking a heavy toll of human lives."

Mr. Amrozi is the first of more than 30 suspects arrested for alleged roles in last October's deadly bomb blasts in Bali that killed more than 200 people. He has been charged under Indonesia's emergency anti-terrorism legislation, passed in the wake of the attack, and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Dressed in a blue prison shirt, the 40-year-old Mr. Amrozi looked at the ground while much of the 33 page indictment was being read. Specifically, Mr. Amrozi is charged with four counts of terrorism for allegedly buying the chemicals and car used in the bombing. Police say Mr. Amrozi confessed to his role.

At least 3,000 police are surrounding the courthouse in Bali's provincial capital Denpasar in case new disturbances break out during the trial. So far, the city has been peaceful.

Two explosions rocked a crowded tourist district in Bali on October 12. The first small blast blew up inside a bar, and police say it was intended to attract people to the area. Then a van packed with explosives was blown up, causing the most damage.

Interviewed before the trial Monday, the head of the bomb investigation Police General Made Pastika, gave his opinion on the importance of the trial for the people of Bali. "We think that all the Balinese are waiting for the justice. Because we want from this court true justice, for the suspects and also for the relatives of the victims," he said. "What we hope now is that the process is going properly without any disturbances. And the Balinese can continue their own activities as usual."

Police say Jemaah Islamiyah was responsible for the bombing. JI is a regional militant group that Washington says is linked to al-Qaeda. But Mr. Amrozi has not been charged as a JI member.

Analysts say it is likely that Mr. Amrozi is just a minor player in the bombing plot. His case is important because prosecutors will use it to establish several facts during the trial, which they will then link to more senior JI members in subsequent trials. After a half day of proceedings, the case was adjourned for a week.