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Qaeda-linked Patek to stand trial in Indonesia


A key militant arrested in the same Pakistani town where US commandos later killed Osama bin Laden goes on trial in Indonesia Monday on multiple charges including the 2002 Bali bombings.

Umar Patek, 45, faces six counts including premeditated murder, bomb-making and illegal firearms possession, and prosecutors say they will push for the death sentence.

"Umar Patek is a dangerous figure wanted not only in Indonesia but also in other countries such as the Philippines. He has caused the deaths of many," prosecutor Bambang Suharyadi told AFP.

"The prosecutors will recommend the stiffest sentence for him," he said. "The charges against him all carry the death penalty, whether or not the offences fall under the anti-terrorism law or the criminal code."

Patek, believed to be a key member of the Al-Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), had a ê1 million bounty on his head under the US rewards for justice programme.

He was extradited to Indonesia after being arrested in January 2011 in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where US commandos later killed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a raid.

Counter-terrorism officials would not confirm whether Patek had met bin Laden, but analysts say it was no coincidence the two were in the same place.

The trial at the West Jakarta district court is expected to drag out over four months as prosecutors present evidence from 86 witnesses.

They will testify to Patek's decade-long involvement in terror, Suharyadi said.

"We will track his activities, from the church attacks in 2000 and Bali attacks in 2002 to his roles in the militant training camp in Aceh," on Sumatra island, he added.

"He hid information about the camp and harboured terrorists like Dulmatin," the prosecutor said, referring to the figure who was Indonesia's most-wanted man until being killed in a 2010 police raid.

According to a copy of the indictment obtained by AFP, Patek will be charged with premeditated murder and assembling bombs for the October 2002 Bali nightclub attacks, which killed 202 people including 88 Australians, and strikes on churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve of 2000.

"The defendant's actions, in the form of bombings in Indonesia or abroad, evoked fear and trauma to victims and Indonesians," the indictment said.

Patek allegedly used simple household tools including a rice ladle to assemble the bombs, which were housed in ordinary filing cabinets, according to Suharyadi and details in the indictment.

"The defendant filled up the black powder in four filing cabinets, in the meantime, Dulmatin made the bomb's electronic circuit," the document said.

The indictment said Patek fled to the southern Philippines after the Bali bombings, joined the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and planned to move to Afghanistan to help insurgents fighting US troops.

He and his Filipina wife Ruqayyah Husein Luceno returned to Indonesia in June 2009 and for a year hid in east Jakarta and elsewhere, before heading to the Pakistani city of Lahore using false identities, it said.

Luceno was sentenced to 27 months in jail last month for falsifying her identity.

Indonesia has waged a successful crackdown on major terror networks and has significantly weakened JI, killing top figures in a series of bloody police raids.

But Jakarta-based analyst Noor Huda Ismail of the Institute for International Peacebuilding said Patek's "network is weakened but not wiped out".

"The fact that he managed to hide in Indonesia for a year without getting caught shows that support for jihadists is still there," he told AFP.

He added that if convicted Patek should, unlike three other Bali bombers Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra, be given a life sentence rather than executed.

"Patek is a goldmine of information. We can squeeze a lot from him, like who is responsible for the network here and who is providing help in Mindanao. If he knows he's going to die, why would he cooperate?" Ismail said.