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Indonesian court indicts cleric accused of planning attacks

World News
Thu, 15 Feb 2018
Reuters


Jakarta: An Indonesian court indicted radical cleric Aman Abdurrahman on Thursday over allegations he masterminded from his jail cell a series of attacks in the Muslim-majority nation, including a deadly 2016 gun and suicide bomb assault in Jakarta.

Abdurrahman arrived in a Jakarta courtroom under police escort and at least a dozen heavily armed officers stood guard outside as prosecutors read out allegations against him.

According to the indictment document, he was on trial for "planning and/or mobilising others to carry out terrorist acts ... to create an atmosphere of terror among the public".

Prosecutor Anita Dewayani told the court Abdurrahman had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group in 2014 and then urged others to undertake a series of attacks.

She cited one alleged plot for a "Paris-style attack" targeting foreigners, particularly French and Russian citizens.

Dewayani read out the names of the victims of some of the attacks Abdurrahman is accused of masterminding, including one in January 2016 in which eight people were killed, including four attackers, after suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the heart of the Indonesian capital.

She also alleged he was behind a suicide attack last year that killed three police officers at a Jakarta bus station and the bombing of a church in Samarinda on Borneo island that wounded four children.

Abdurrahman, who wore orange prison clothes with a checkered scarf tied around his head, told the court he understood the charges and did not object to the indictment.

His lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

The cleric and ideologue is the founder of Islamic State-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a militant group in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country that the United States has designated as a "terrorist organisation".

He was immediately re-arrested by police last year after serving time in prison for setting up a militant training camp in the Indonesian province of Aceh.

Abdurrahman had reportedly also managed to keep spreading his message on social media from jail.

"To put it generally, he is the mastermind behind many of the terrorist acts in Indonesia," prosecutor Dewayani later told reporters. The maximum penalty for such charges is the death sentence, she said.

Prosecutors have asked for the trial to be adjourned until Feb. 23, when they plan to present witnesses.

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