x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Bali nightclub bomber lawyers argue charges 'obscure and not accurate'

Lawyers for Umar Patek, who made bombs used in the 2002 attack, say Indonesia's tough anti-terrorism law cannot be applied retroactively and he is not guilty of premeditated murder.

JAKARTA // Lawyers for an Indonesian man who made bombs used in the 2002 Bali nightclub blasts said the charges against him are obscure and should be dropped.

They also said Indonesia's tough anti-terrorism law cannot be applied retroactively and that Umar Patek did not take part in preplanning meetings and was not guilty of premeditated murder.

The trial began last week for the 45-year-old Patek, known as "Demolition Man" for his expertise with explosives.

He was one of the last few ranking militants with the Al Qaeda-linked regional network Jemaah Islamiyah still on the run when he was arrested a year ago in Pakistan. Intelligence agents found him in Abbottabad, the same northwestern town where Osama bin Laden was killed several months later.

Mr Patek faces a maximum penalty of death by firing squad if convicted of various terror-related and criminal charges, most of which are tied to the Bali bombings that left 202 people dead, including 88 Australians and seven Americans. It was the deadliest terror strike ever in Asia.

Mr Patek sat quietly in the West Jakarta District courtroom yesterday, listening as his attorneys refuted the allegations.

Ashluddin Hatjani said the charges faced by the defendant were "incomplete, obscure and not accurate." He also argued that because anti-terror legislation was not passed until 2003, it cannot be applied retroactively.

And while Mr Patek has admitted assembling the explosives, he did so at the request of one of the Bali bombing masterminds, Imam Samudra, who was executed in 2008, Mr Hatjani said. Mr Patek had no way of knowing how they would be used, he said.

Last week, prosecutors said Mr Patek helped assemble detonating cords and boosters for the bombs as well as the suicide vests strapped to the militants who walked into two nightclubs throbbing on a busy Saturday night.

They said Mr Patek left Bali on October 11, 2002 - one day before the blasts.

Prosecutors have also accused him of helping teach militants how to use assault rifles for a terrorist training camp that was uncovered in Aceh province in early 2010.

Mr Hatjani denied that and other weapons smuggling allegations.