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US to move ahead with Guantanamo Bay trial of Bali bombing suspects

Namita Singh
·2-min read
<p>File Image: People gather at the Bali Bombing Memorial Monument on 12 October 2013 in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia. People gathered at various memorial ceremonies today to remember the victims of the 2002 Kuta nightclub bombings which killed 202 people</p> (Getty Images)

File Image: People gather at the Bali Bombing Memorial Monument on 12 October 2013 in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia. People gathered at various memorial ceremonies today to remember the victims of the 2002 Kuta nightclub bombings which killed 202 people

(Getty Images)

The Pentagon on Thursday announced plans to proceed with the military trial of three men held at the US base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, in connection with the deadly bombings in Indonesia in 2002 and 2003.

"The charges include conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, terrorism, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, destruction of property, and accessory after the fact, all in violation of the law of war," the US Department of Defense said in a statement.

The three suspects — Encep Nurjaman, Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin — were accused of planning, aiding and abetting in a course of conduct that resulted in the bombings of nightclubs in Bali in 2002, which left 202 people dead and JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta in 2003 that killed at least 11. Mr Nurjaman, also known as Hambali, is alleged to be the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, al-Qaida’s top affiliate in southeast Asia.

The timing of the charges of prosecution, however, caught the attorney of the three accused men by surprise, reported Associated Press, as they were being held in Guantanamo Bay since September 2006. “This was done in a state of panic before the new administration could get settled,” said Marine Corps Major, James Valentine, the appointed military attorney for Mr Nurjaman.

The accused were taken into custody in 2003, after a joint Thai-US intelligence raid, following which they spent about three years in the secret CIA prison network.

While the military prosecutors filed charges against them in June 2017, the case was rejected by the Pentagon legal official known as a convening authority. "The case fell apart on them. I cannot tell you why because that's classified," Major Valentine told AP.

The move also is seen in conflict with President Joe Biden’s intention of shutting down the detention centre. Since the charges are non-capital, the accused men, if convicted, could be awarded the maximum punishment of sentence for life.

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