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Malaysian detainees in Guantanamo plead guilty to 2002 Bali bombings

Malaysian detainees Nazir Lep and Farik Amin plead guilty in Guantanamo Bay for the 2002 Bali bombings. Judge Braun discloses a 20-25 year prison term in the pre-trial agreement.

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Two Malaysian detainees, Nazir Lep and Farik Amin, have entered guilty pleas at the US military court in Guantanamo Bay regarding their involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings.

The presiding judge, Wesley A Braun of the US Air Force, revealed on the second day of the hearing that the duo would face a prison sentence ranging from 20 to 25 years under a pre-trial agreement.

Judge Braun took considerable measures to ensure the voluntariness of the agreement, emphasizing that the detainees were aware of its clauses and consequences.

He specifically questioned them about their understanding of clauses regarding the commencement date of the sentence, the court’s recommendation for repatriation or transfer to a third-party nation and the waiver of their right to appeal.

The judge underscored the importance of the detainees’ cooperation in the investigation of Indonesian Encep Nurjaman, known as Hambali, who is alleged to be the mastermind behind the Bali bombings.

Encep Nurjaman, also known as Hambali, was the perpetrator of the Bali bombings. (Photo: Reuters)

Nazir and Farik are required to participate in interviews, depositions, and testimony, cooperating fully with accurate information. Failure to comply with this provision could lead to the withdrawal of the agreement.

One notable clause in the agreement raised concerns as the detainees waived their right to appeal any court decision or recommendation.

Judge Braun repeatedly sought assurance from Nazir and Farik that they understood the implications of this clause. The agreement also included a provision for the court to recommend repatriation or transfer, contingent on the detainees’ cooperation and compliance.

On the second day of the hearing, the judge revealed that the detainees had also agreed to withdraw all pending motions, except for one related to a request for sentencing credit before the agreement’s signing. Sentencing credit is a period subtracted from any prison sentence received for a conviction.

The guilty pleas entered by Nazir, 46, and Farik, 48, mark a turning point in their 20-year ordeal of solitary confinement without trial in Guantanamo Bay.

Alongside Hambali, they have been under solitary confinement since their arrest in Thailand in 2003.

The detainees were initially charged in 2018 with nine offences related to the 2002 Bali bombings, which claimed 202 lives, and the 2003 Marriott hotel bombing in Jakarta, resulting in 11 deaths.

However, the pleas made no mention of any connection to the 2003 Jakarta bombing.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped charges of terrorism, assault on civilians and structures, as well as attempted murder.

The Bali bombings on October 13, 2002, consisted of three consecutive powerful explosions, shaking the island of Bali around 11:15 PM local time.

The first two explosions occurred on Legian Street, Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, with the third explosion near the US Consulate General’s Office in Renon, Denpasar, Bali.

The attacks claimed 202 lives, with the majority being Australian citizens.

The aftermath left a crater of 4-4.5 meters wide and 80 centimetres deep.

The bombings severely damaged dozens of buildings within a 10 to 20-meter radius, shattering windows of shops, hotels, and other entertainment venues within a 1-kilometer radius.

The initial findings pointed to the involvement of the Al Qaeda network, and the US Consulate General in Surabaya warned of attempts to establish an Al Qaeda network in Indonesia.

The perpetrators believed to be members of Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), included individuals like Amrozi bin H Nurhasyim, Imam Samudra, Ali Ghufron bin H Nurhasyim, and others who faced various sentences, including death and life imprisonment.

One of the Bali bombing suspects, Ali Imron, received a life sentence and later expressed remorse, aiding efforts in Indonesia’s deradicalization.

Hambali, initially missing, surfaced in a closed military hearing in August 2016, seeking release but facing rejection.

It wasn’t until 21 January 2021, the first day of President Joe Biden’s term, that Hambali was officially designated a suspect in the Bali bombings and the 2003 Marriott bombing.

Hambali, the first Guantanamo detainee to be prosecuted since 2014, had spent 18 years in detention without formal charges, citing the law of war that allows holding individuals without formal accusations.

The lengthy process of designating him a suspect raised questions, with the Pentagon providing no clear explanation.

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