Ambon, Maluku Terrorist Trial

Feb 1st, 2006, in News, by

A number of Muslim militants are currently on trial in the city of Ambon, province of Maluku, scene of an inter-religious war from around 2000 to 2004.

Prosecutors in one of the trials, that of Idi Amin Tabrani Pattimura, alias Ongen Pattimura, and Fatur Datu Armen, who are charged with carrying out an attack on the a karaoke bar in Ambon, have demanded the death penalty. The men led the attack, armed with M16 rifles, and killed two Christians, a man and a woman, shooting them in the head.

The weapons used were said by the prosecutor to have been formerly in the possession of the Laskar Jihad group. After they had been used they were stashed away in the State Institute for Islamic Studies in Ambon.

The prosecutor said:

[Ongen and Fatur] planned acts of terrorism to spread fear among the public, kill people and to destroy public property.

Ongen, a resident of Batumerah in Ambon, is a father of four who comes from Latu village in west Seram regency. A former political science student at the State Institute for Islamic Studies, he owns a cafe and once stood as a legislative candidate for the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party in the 2004 general election.

The other man, Fatur, from Makassar, South Sulawesi, came to Ambon as a member of the Laskar Jundullah and Wahdah Islamiyah militant groups. He later married an Ambonese woman, and worked in Ambon as a fuel seller. He is known locally as a something of a religious teacher, and police also believe he is connected with a separate attack on a Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) post in the seaside village of Lokki on May 16 2005 in which five police officers, and their cook, were killed. They were guarding a Christian enclave in a mainly Muslim village.

The trial of the two men has been heavily guarded with dozens of Mobile Brigage officers in full riot gear standing outside the courthouse. Tensions had been raised when about 100 people, who claimed to be members of the suspects' families, staged a noisy rally outside the courthouse. When the group heard the prosecutors had demanded death sentences for Ongen and Fatur, some became hysterical and several women fainted.

Update 13th September 2006

One Sarif Tarabubun, a police brigadier, was sentenced to 15 years by an Ambon court for his role in the attack on the bar.

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14th February 2006.

Asep Djaja is sentenced to death.

A number of trials of Muslim militants are going on in Ambon currently with one of them coming to a conclusion today. For involvement in two separate attacks, one on a village, and one on a police post, which together accounted for eight deaths, Asep Djaja, alias Aji, was sentenced to death by firing squad.

The defendant's actions caused terror and widespread fear among the residents of Wamkana and Loki, and Maluku people in general.

said the judge.

Asep Djaja complained after the verdict that he shouldn't have been tried under anti-terrorism laws. Jihadists are not terrorists, he said, as presumably they do their shooting, bayonetting, and beheading while invoking the name of God, doing it in a holy, godly way, a way pioneered by "the prophet" and sanctioned by generations of Islamic ideologues, or err, scholars. He said:

We're not terrorists, but mujahideen. Terrorists and mujahideen are different. We have norms and regulations. What we're doing is merely responding to the conflict in Maluku.

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20th February 2006.

A life sentence was given for Idiamin Tabrani Patimura alias Ongen Patimura, for his role in an attack on a bar in Ambon city in which a romancing couple was murdered.

The prosecution called for the death penalty, which in the case of Asep Djaja was applied, but not in the case of Ongen for unknown reasons.

Later the family of the man complained that the fact that he had been tried and punished under anti-terrorism laws was unfair since the shootings were only a revenge attack for the killing of a Muslim man, Ismail Pelu, by the police not long before, and thus constituted ordinary criminal actions.

This line of thinking was recently echoed by the former leader of the Laskar Jihad Ustadz Ja'far Umar Thalib. He made clear his misgivings about the current trials in Maluku to the Judicial Commission in Jakarta and said that the practice of trying Muslims under terrorism laws was discriminative and implied that Christians did not receive the same sort of treatment.

Through his legal counsel, one Mahendradatta, the Coordinator of the Tim Pembela Muslim (TPM), Muslim Defence Team, he also said (threatened?) that such unfairness could lead to fresh conflicts in the province. He said that those who had killed Ismail Pelu had only received light sentences, for the carrying of illegal weapons, and were prosecuted under State of Emergency laws rather than anti-terrorist ones.

Why are Muslims prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws while other groups are not? (Mengapa untuk kelompok muslim tuduhannya melanggar UU Anti Terorisme, sementara yang lain tidak?)

the lawyer asked, and added:

If this situation is allowed to continue it may provoke Muslims into resistance because they feel cornered. (Kalau ini dibiarkan bisa gawat, akan muncul resistensi dari kelompok muslim yang merasa dipojokkan.)


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