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Militants jailed for Christian attacks

Published: 11:21PM Monday December 03, 2007 Source: Reuters

Six Indonesian Islamic militants were jailed for up to 19 years over a string of deadly attacks against Christians in a religiously divided region of Sulawesi island.
   
Their crimes included the assassination of a Protestant minister, the beheading of three Christian schoolgirls and a bomb attack on a market that killed 22 people.
   
Ten defendants, arrested earlier this year and charged under anti-terrorism laws, had appeared in separate court rooms in the South Jakarta District court.
   
Judge Haryanto jailed Syaiful Anam for 18 years for his involvement in the May 2005 market bombing in Tentena town.
   
Anam appeared defiant after his sentencing.
   
"This sentence is a consequence of jihad. Whether it had been 18 years or the death penalty it would have been no problem," he told reporters, saying he had not yet decided whether to appeal.
   
In another court room, Abdul Muis was jailed for 19 years for the shooting of a Christian priest and for assembling a bomb used in a different market attack, judge Aswan Nurcahyo said.
   
Rahman Kalahe received 19 years for his part in the beheading of the three high school girls.

Yudi Parsan was jailed for 10 years and three months and Agus Nur Muhammad for 14 years for carrying out surveillance ahead of the schoolgirl attack.
   
Amril Ngiode got 15 years for assembling the bomb in Tentena market, possessing illegal weapons and assault.
   
The attacks took place in the Poso region of central Sulawesi, scene of Muslim-Christian fighting between 1999 and 2001 that killed more than 2,000 people.

Despite a 2001 peace accord, sporadic violence continued but prosecutions of those involved have been rare.
   
Four other defendants are due to be sentenced next week, including Muhammad Basri and Adrin Djanatu, who police believe were the leaders of a local group believed to be linked to the regional militant network Jemaah Islamiah (JI).
   
JI is blamed for a string of deadly attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 nightclub bombings on the resort island of Bali, which killed more than 200 people, many of them foreigners.
   
Hundreds of militants allegedly linked to JI have been arrested since Bali.
   
Three Christians convicted of leading a group that killed scores of Muslims in 2000 at a boarding school in Poso were executed last year.
   
Around 85% of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslim, but in some areas in the country's east, such as Poso, there are roughly equal numbers of Muslims and Christians.