Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Islamic Militants Sentenced for Attacks on Christians in Indonesia

Six Islamic militants have been sentenced to up to 19 years in Indonesia for a string of violent offences against Christians on Sulawesi Island.The men where convicted for their involvement in the assassination of a Protestant priest, the beheading of three Christian schoolgirls and a bombing that killed 22 people in a market in Tentena town.Ten of the defendants had been arrested and charged earlier this year under anti-terrorism laws. They appeared in separate court rooms in the South Jakarta District court.One of the accused, Syaiful Anam, was sentenced to 18 years by Judge Haryanto for involvement in the bombing in Tentena in 2005.Anam appeared [unrepentant] after the 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.Another militant, Abdul Muis, was sentenced to 19 years for shooting a Christian priest and for assembling the bomb used in a separate market attack. Rahman Kalahe, Yudi Parsan and Agus Nur Muhammad were jailed for 19 years, 10 years three months, and 14 years, respectively, for their involvement in the beheading of the three schoolgirls.Amril Ngiode was sentenced to 15 years for making the bomb used in the Tentena market attack as well as for possession of illegal weapons and assault.The militants' actions all occurred in the Poso region of central Sulawesi, which was an area of intense Muslim-Christian conflict from 1999 to 2001. Over 2,000 people were killed in the conflict.Although a peace accord was implemented in 2001, violence still occasionally flares up and often the perpetrators are not prosecuted for their actions.Next week, four other defendants will be sentenced, including Muhammad Basri and Adrin Djanatu who are believed to be leaders of a group linked to Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a regional militant network.JI is thought to be responsible for a number of attacks in Indonesia including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed over 200 people. Since then hundreds of militants thought to be linked to JI have been arrested.Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Around 220 million people (85 percent of the population) in Indonesia are Muslim. However in some eastern parts of the country, like Poso, there are nearly equal numbers of Christians and Muslims.

As in the days of Noah....

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