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Indonesia Issues First Sentence in Jakarta Marriott Bombing Case - 2004-02-26

An Indonesian court handed down a prison sentence Thursday in the country's first trial related to last year's bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.

A Jakarta court sentenced Sardono Siliwangi to 10 years in prison Thursday for helping to carry out last August's bomb attack on the city's Marriott hotel, which is run by a U.S. owned chain.

Twelve people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated a car loaded with explosives outside the Marriott's main restaurant.

Sardono is the first of 24 arrested suspects to face trial for involvement in the bombing. Prosecutors said he allowed his house to be used for meetings to plan the attack, and for storing bomb materials.

The Marriott bombing is believed to have been backed by Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the regional terror group blamed for the Bali nightclub bombing in October 2002. That attack killed 202 people, mostly Western tourists.

More than 30 people connected to the Bali bombing have been convicted, and three of them have been sentenced to death.

Terrorist experts say the Marriott bombing exposed a split in JI. Eleven of dead were local staff at the hotel, and the loss of Indonesian life shocked many of the group's would-be sympathizers. A recent report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) says one wing of JI has followed orders from Osama bin Laden, the head of the al-Qaida terrorist network, to strike American targets. Another wing has apparently concentrated on creating an Islamic state in Indonesia.

ICG analysts think the more violent wing has been badly damaged by the arrests that followed the Bali and Marriott bombings, but warn the group will present a threat to Indonesia and the region for some time to come.