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04 March 2024

Trial starts for militant accused of building bombs

By Reuters

A militant captured in the same Pakistan town where US forces killed Osama bin Laden went on trial in Indonesia on Monday accused of making bombs that exploded at Bali nightclubs packed with Australian tourists in 2002, killing 202 people.

Umar Patek, 45, is also accused of mixing chemicals for 13 bombs that detonated in Jakarta on Christmas Eve, 2000, that killed around 15 people. Security officials say he belonged to a banned group linked to al Qaeda.

Pakistani authorities caught Patek in January 2011 in the garrison town of Abbottabad where US forces shot dead al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last May. It is unclear whether the two met.

"The defendant met Samudra (a key figure in the Bali bombings who was convicted and executed in 2008) and invited him to kill foreigners and tourists in Bali using bombs," state prosecutor Fri Hartono told a district court in Jakarta.

"Samudra asked the defendant to mix explosives for the bombs and he agreed," Hartono said.

Patek was flanked by heavily armed officers as he was escorted into the courtroom.

He sat in silence as prosecutors took turns to read the 29-page indictment in the small room. A handful of his supporters shouted slogans of God is greatest at the hearing. He will respond to the charges on Feb 20.

The threat from militants in Indonesia has diminished in recent years because of a campaign by security forces against these groups and associated groups and also because of convictions of militant leaders, according to analysts.

Patek He was wanted in the United States, the Philippines and Australia.