The mastermind’s sentence of 18 years in jail is actually one of the longer terms we have seen out of Indonesia in recent cases. “Two jailed over church plot, book bombs,” from the South African Press Agency and Agence France-Presse, March 5:
An Indonesian court on Monday sentenced the Islamist mastermind behind a foiled Easter church attack and several attempted parcel bombings to 18 years in jail.
Pepi Fernando “knowingly used force or threat of violence to invoke an atmosphere of widespread terror or cause mass casualties”, presiding judge Moestafa told the West Jakarta district court.
He “wasn’t remorseful about his actions”, added the judge, who goes by only one name.
But the 32-year-old’s sentence, which came after he was found guilty of committing terrorism, was lighter than the life term sought by prosecutors because he had been “co-operative”, judges said.
Fernando had plotted to set off a massive bomb beneath a gas pipeline near a church in Serpong outside Jakarta last Easter but police foiled the attack after finding the device.
He also instructed “book bombs” to be sent to Muslim moderates and a counter-terrorism official, Moestafa said.
All but one of the bombs failed to go off, but the one which did explode injured three policemen including a detective whose hand was blown off as he tried to defuse the device which was in a hollowed-out book.
Prosecutor Bambang Suharyadi told AFP that Fernando was the “mastermind” behind the attacks and had taught himself how to assemble bombs from the Internet.
He had also plotted to plant a bomb along a road where President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was scheduled to pass, the prosecutor added.
Fernando turned and waved to reporters after the verdict was read out but did not say anything.
In a separate trial, local television GlobalTV cameraman Imam Mukhamad Firdaus, 32, was sentenced to 40 months in jail for hiding information about terrorism. He was allegedly hired to film the planned church and parcel bomb attacks.
The sentence was lighter than the five years prosecutors had recommended.
“The defendant knew about the terror acts and future plans but concealed the information,” presiding judge Supeno, who also only goes by one name, told the West Jakarta district court.
Indonesia has won praise for rounding up hundreds of Islamist militants since it became a key battlefield in the “war on terror” in 2002 when local radicals detonated bombs on Bali island, killing 202 people, mainly Westerners.
It has tended to be a softer touch with homegrown groups that stick to abusing Christians and Ahmadis, however, and has looked the other way from the backdoor enforcement of Sharia through manipulation of existing laws.
But analysts say religious extremism has been growing since 2008, and Yudhoyono has warned that Indonesia’s cherished reputation for pluralism is under attack by a rising tide of extremism.