DENPASAR, Indonesia - A court sentenced a grinning motorcycle mechanic to death yesterday after convicting him for plotting the Bali nightclub terror attack that killed 202 people in October.
The man, known as Amrozi, 41, an accused member of the Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, is the first defendant to be convicted in the Bali case.
Indonesian and American officials have said they believe that Jemaah Islamiyah is probably responsible for the terror attack on the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta on Tuesday that killed 16 people and wounded more than 150. Officials speculated that the Marriott blast was timed as a warning to the Indonesian government on the eve of the first verdict in the Bali bombing case.
The verdict read to the court by the chief judge, I Made Karna, described the Bali attack as an "extraordinary crime" and a "crime against humanity."
Immediately after the verdict, Amrozi, who has smiled at many of his court appearances, swiveled in his chair to face the crowded courtroom. He flashed a wide toothy grin and stretched out both arms with a thumbs-up gesture. In brief interviews during the trial that began in mid-May, Amrozi has said he wanted to be a martyr, and he mounted little defense during the trial.
In announcing the death sentence, Karna said the panel of five judges had taken into account the feelings of the victims' families, some of whom were in the courtroom yesterday.
There were loud cheers from some of the families who had come from Australia. Nearly 90 of the 202 people who died in the nightclub blast were Australian vacationers.
The judges said they had also considered the feelings of the wounded and the extensive damage to the tourist-dependent Bali economy.
Amrozi was the first suspect arrested in the Bali case. More than 30 others have been arrested, and the trials of other suspects, including that of Imam Samudra, considered to be the main organizer of the Bali operation, are drawing to a close.
During their trials, the defendants, who include two of Amrozi's brothers, have said they were seeking to strike at Western interests and to inflict as many casualties as possible. The similarity of targets between the Bali nightclub and the Marriott hotel - easy-to-enter places frequented by Westerners - is a reason American and Indonesian officials believe that Jemaah Islamiyah was involved in Tuesday's attack.