18 years later, Bali bomber’s trial begins in Guantánamo bay

A foreign tourist looks at the name of victims on a monument for the Bali bombing at Kuta near Denpasar, on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on March 23, 2017. Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP
A foreign tourist looks at the name of victims on a monument for the Bali bombing at Kuta near Denpasar, on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on March 23, 2017. Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP

UPDATE Sept. 1: Hambali, along with two Malaysian men who have been detained by the US for 18 years without charge, were formally accused of war crimes on Aug. 31.

Original story follows.


Hambali, the alleged mastermind of the 2002 Bali Bombings, made his first court appearance at the Guantánamo Bay detention center yesterday, after being held by the US for 18 years in connection to terror attacks in Indonesia in the early 2000s.

The suspect, whose real name is Encep Nurjaman and is also known as Riduan Isamuddin, faced a military commission on charges of war crimes that include murder, terrorism, and conspiracy, alongside two Malaysians Mohammed Farik bin Amin and Mohammed Nazir bin Lep Nurjaman. 

All three were captured in Thailand in 2003. A Senate Intelligence Committee report released in 2014 showed that they were transferred to CIA “black sites,” where they were subjected to torture, before they were moved to Guantánamo in 2006. Hambali was a leader of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a Southeast Asian militant group with ties to Al-Qaeda. 

Prosecutors, who are seeking life sentences in the case, accuse the three suspects of conspiring in the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali, which killed 202 people, and the 2003 Marriott hotel bombing in Jakarta, which killed at least 11 people and wounded at least 80. 

The arraignment hearing on Monday was the first step to see the three Southeast Asian men formally charged, but that has reportedly been delayed due to translation and interpretation problems, according to a report by the New York Times.

A report by the Associated Press suggests that the case might be a “long legal journey” as it involves evidence tainted by CIA torture, which is an issue that has caused other war crime cases to languish at the US base in Cuba. 

The hearing comes as the new US administration under President Joe Biden says it intends to close the controversial detention center.

Read more news and updates from Bali here

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