It’s death for smiling bomber’

Tears, applause from Bali blast survivors and victims’ families, but Amrozi flashes a big grin and defiant thumbs-up in court

Indonesia’s ‘smiling bomber’ Amrozi faces death by firing squad after he was found guilty yesterday for his role in last October’s Bali bombings.

Seated in a Bali courtroom before the panel of judges who decided his fate, the 41-year-old Amrozi appeared to relish his date with death.

He broke into a grin, punched the air and shouted Allahu akbar (‘God is great’) when chief judge I Made Karna declared him guilty of terrorism and sentenced him to death.

Then he turned around in his seat, flashed a wide grin and gave a thumbs-up sign to his lawyers as well as survivors and family members of those who died in the Oct 12 blasts.

Tears flowed and applause broke out among the Australian survivors and family members.

The verdict was a clear signal that Jakarta would not cave in to threats of further terrorist attacks.

It also came as police announced leads in identifying the driver of the mini van that carried a powerful bomb that rocked the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta on Tuesday, and released a sketch of a man believed to have been the suicide bomber.

During his trial, which began in May, Amrozi shocked the world by grinning and giggling as he spoke about the bombings.

He admitted that he had taken part in the blasts, but displayed no remorse whatsoever.

He now has a week to appeal against his sentence and has indicated that he does not wish to, but his lawyers said that they would appeal anyway because ‘he does not deserve the death penalty’.

In Sydney, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said: ‘I hope that this verdict provides some sense of comfort to those who lost their loved ones in this tragedy and that they feel that, in some way, justice has been done.’

Outside the courtroom, blast survivors wept and embraced relatives after the sentencing.

‘We are so relieved that finally one person got the death penalty and hope the rest do too as soon as possible,’ said Australian Natalie Juniardi, a mother of two toddlers, whose Indonesian husband was one of the more than 200 people killed in the blasts.

But families of British victims said yesterday that they planned to appeal against Amrozi’s death sentence to prevent him from becoming a martyr for Islamic extremists.

‘Why execute someone who shows no remorse and wants to be a martyr?’ asked Ms Susanna Miller, spokesman for families of most of the 26 British victims.

For Jakarta, the sentencing ended speculation over Amrozi’s fate following Tuesday’s devastating bomb blast in the capital.

An Indonesian government official who had been following the terror trials of those such as Amrozi and Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist network, told The Straits Times: ‘Amrozi deserves to die for what he did in Bali.

‘People saw this verdict as a litmus test of our resolve. We have shown them now that we are not afraid of taking tough action against him and all his accomplices.’

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