Bali bomber Amrozi denies cleric Bashir gave blessing
JAKARTA, April 19: An Indonesian militant sentenced to death over the 2002 Bali bombings told a court today he never asked permission from cleric Abu Bakar Bashir to carry out the attacks, a Bashir lawyer said.
The attacks killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists, on Indonesia's prime resort island.
Amrozi and two other militants were sentenced to death for the blasts and are awaiting execution.
Wirawan Adnan, citing Amrozi's testimony in the Central Java appeals court, told Reuters: ''It is a lie that he (Amrozi) had asked Abu Bakar Bashir for permission for the bombings in Bali.'' ''It was what the police wanted. The police had pushed Mubarok to make the statement,'' Adnan said over the telephone, referring to another convicted Bali bomber who had said Amrozi told him of consulting Bashir.
''Mubarok confessed that he lied to police amid ongoing torture,'' Adnan added. Mubarok is serving a life sentence.
Bashir's lawyers hope Amrozi's testimony will help get Bashir's conviction of being part of the bombing conspiracy thrown out.
Intelligence officials and analysts say Bashir was the spiritual leader of al Qaeda-linked Islamic militant network Jemaah Islamiah, and that Jemaah Islamiah was behind the Bali blasts and other attacks in Indonesia.
Bashir has denied any wrongdoing and says Jemaah Islamiah does not exist.
The cleric has been in custody since late 2002 for various offences and is due to be released from his current sentence in June.
He was first arrested several days after the 2002 bombings for investigations of separate crimes and later spent 18 months in jail for minor immigration offences after treason charges against him were dismissed or overturned.
When he was leaving prison in April 2004, police re-arrested him over suspicions related to the Bali attacks.
Last year, a court sentenced him to 30 months in prison on those charges.
Time served while being investigated and tried and reductions in his sentence in line with standard Indonesian procedures for prisoners showing good behaviour mean he is expected to go free in about two months.