Bali Blast Key Player Denies Role

The alleged mastermind of last year's deadly Bali bombings testified Monday that he is not afraid of a death sentence but denied involvement in the blasts.

Imam Samudra, a 33-year-old textile merchant, declared his innocence when he read out a formal defense plea in the Oct. 12 blasts that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

"I am not afraid of being sentenced to death because what I have done so far has put me on the road to Allah, and is in line with the teachings of Islam," he said.

Prosecutors said Samudra — who could also be executed if convicted — was the mastermind behind the plot, and recruited and trained the bombers.

About three dozen men, all accused of being members of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror group, have been arrested in the Bali bombings. The group is linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network.

Samudra acknowledged he had surveyed several locations in Bali with another key suspect, Ali Imron.

"I only took a walk around Bali with Ali Imron. I did not know what he was planning," he said, reading out the statement. "I saw many foreigners who were drunk. They were disgusting. They made me sick," he said.

Samudra claimed the United States and its allies had attacked and mistreated Muslims.

"Muslims have been made scapegoats for American terrorism around the world," Samudra said.

An Australian survivor Ben Tullipan, 37, who had both his legs blown off in the blast sat in his wheelchair and listened to Samudra's plea.

"I came here to see the (man) who did this to me," he said emotionally. "It's very hard to get over."

Last week an Indonesian court brought down the first conviction in the case, sentencing Amrozi bin Nurhasyim to death. Lawyers for Amrozi said they had filed an appeal against his conviction and death sentence.

Amrozi was convicted Thursday of helping plan and execute the attacks. He has repeatedly said he was ready to die as a martyr and appeared overjoyed when the sentence was read out.

"We have persuaded him to exhaust all avenues to get justice. He was guilty for his role in the attack, but he was not the planner so we do not think he should be shot to death," said his lawyer, Oktriyan.

But American survivor Steven Cabler, who lost his hearing in his left ear in the blast, told CBS' Early Show he hopes Amrozi's death sentence stands.

"I think every man should be held accountable for his, you know, things that he does," Cabler said. "I think there's definitely some justice for the people who lost their lives, yes."

Death sentences, which are rare in Indonesia, are carried out by a firing squad.

But Oktriyan said the appeal would note that there was no evidence other than testimonies of other defendants placing Amrozi at the planning sessions, and that these were weak and inconsistent.

At least four of the 35 members of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist gang captured since last year's attacks face charges that carry a possible death sentence.
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