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Islamic militant boss in Indonesian court

By NNN-Antara

Jakarta : The leader of Islamic militant network Jemaah Islamiyah was brought to an Indonesian court Monday to face trial over his activities as part of the group blamed for the deadly Bali bombings.

Zarkasi entered a holding cell at South Jakarta district court amid tight security then spread newspaper sheets across the opening so that photographers could not take his picture.

An indictment specifying the exact charges against him was expected to be read out at the start of the trial, slated to begin later Monday.

Police have accused him of controlling JI operations right across Indonesia, overseeing the training of its leaders, controlling weapons and ammunition, and managing assignments for attacks in religiously-divided Poso in Sulawesi.

Zarkasi, who has admitted he became the group’s leader by default in 2004 as it searched for a more appropriate person to take the reins, has told police he would testify against JI in court.

He testified however in another accused militant’s trial last month and said he did not understand many of the terms prosecutors were using, meaning he avoided giving answers in full.

He also denied knowledge of specific attacks in Poso and involvement in supplying weapons destined for the area, contrary to an earlier statement he made to police.

He denied his testimony was contradictory however when probed by judges.

Zarkasi and the head of JI’s military wing, Abu Dujana, were both captured in Central Java’s Yogyakarta city in June this year.

Dujana’s trial began last Wednesday.

JI has been blamed for some of the worst attacks in Asia in recent years, and police said shortly after Zarkasi’s arrest that he had already provided good information about the group that had led to arrests of other militants.

Police say Zarkasi had trained in Pakistan with Nasir Abas, a JI member now cooperating with Indonesian police. He had joined the war in Afghanistan against the Russians in the late 1980s and spent time in the restive southern Philippines, where he trained JI militant members in their camps there.

JI’s most horrific attacks were the 2002 Bali bombings, which left 202 people dead on the holiday isle, mostly foreigners.

JI was previously believed to have links with Al-Qaeda, but security analysts now believe the organisation is isolated.