|Patek, centre, had a $1m bounty on his head, and stands trial after a nine-year flight from authorities [Reuters]|
The main suspect in the 2002 Bali bombings, Umar Patek, has gone on trial in an Indonesian court where he faces multiple charges, including premeditated murder, for the deadly attacks.
“Umar Patek’s trial is declared open,” Judge Lexsy Mamonto said on Monday, before prosecutor Widodo Supriady began reading the charges to the court in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
“Defendant Umar Patek committed an evil conspiracy with others to commit a crime by bringing in, obtaining, providing or owning firearms, ammunition or explosive materials and other dangerous materials to carry out terrorism,” Supriady read.
According to a copy of the indictment obtained by the AFP news agency, Patek will be charged with premeditated murder and assembling bombs for the October 2002 Bali nightclub attacks, and strikes on churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve of 2000.
The Bali nightclub attacks killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.
The trial at the West Jakarta district court is expected to last more than four months as prosecutors present evidence from 86 witnesses. Prosecutors say they will push for the death sentence.
The 45-year-old Patek, whose real name is Hisyam Bin Alizein and who has several aliases, had a $1m bounty on his head under the US rewards for justice programme.
Patek, known as “Demolition Man” for his expertise with explosives, stands trial after a nine-year flight from justice.
His trial is considered a “significant step in the fight against terrorism” in Indonesia, said Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from Jakarta.
However, because the laws did not exist at the time of the bombing, Patek cannot be charged with terrorism, our correspondent said.
Though, Patek is considered an important source of information about terrorism-related activity in Indonesia, authorities told our correspondent a new generation of bomb-makers and planners had emerged in the nine years since the Bali attacks therefore, they say, “the end is still not in sight” for the fight against “terrorism” in the island nation.
Patek was extradited to Indonesia after being arrested in January 2011 in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where US commandos later killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
His trial began amid tight security, with police saying they had deployed specialist anti-terrorism and anti-mob units across the capital.
Patek arrived at the court in a police armoured vehicle, escorted by armed police commandos.
Purnomo Yusgiantoro, the Indonesian defence minister, said previously there was information that Patek had been trying to meet Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad before his arrest on January 25 last year.