BALI, Indonesia – The alleged mastermind of last year's Bali bombings (search) appeared in court Monday, denying involvement in the blasts while lawyers for the first man convicted for the attack filed an appeal to save their client from facing a firing squad.
Imam Samudra (search), a 33-year-old textile merchant, told judges he had nothing to do with the Oct. 12 attack that killed 202 people, most of them foreign vacationers.
Prosecutors say Samudra -- who could also be executed if convicted -- was the brains behind the plot and that he recruited and trained the bombers.
About three dozen men, all accused of being members of the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (search) terror group, have been arrested for the Bali bombings.
Last week, an Indonesian court brought down the first conviction in the case, sentencing Amrozi bin Nurhasyim (search) to death for helping plan and execute the attacks. His lawyers said they had filed an appeal with the Bali High Court against his conviction and death sentence.
Death sentences, which are rare in Indonesia, are carried out by a firing squad.
Amrozi, known as the "smiling bomber," has repeatedly expressed a readiness to die as a martyr.
"We have persuaded him to exhaust all avenues to get justice. He was guilty for his role in the attack, but he was not the planner so we do not think he should be shot to death," said his lawyer, Oktriyan, who uses a single name.
Oktriyan said the appeal would note that there was no evidence other than testimonies of other defendants placing Amrozi at the planning sessions, and that these were weak and inconsistent.
In the Samudra trial, the defendant acknowledged that he had surveyed several locations in Bali with another key suspect, Ali Imron.
"I only took a walk around Bali with Ali Imron. I did not know what he was planning," Samudra said reading out a statement.
"I saw many foreigners who were drunk. They were disgusting. They made me sick," he said.
Samudra claimed the United States and its allies mistreat Muslims.
"Muslims have been made scapegoats for American terrorism around the world," Samudra said.
When asked by judges what he felt about Australia, he replied in a loud voice, "Australia's intervention in East Timor was an act of terrorism."
Australia headed the international peacekeeping troops who stopped Indonesian military and its militia proxies destroying much of East Timor after a U.N. sponsored ballot, which lead to the independence of Indonesia's former colony in 1999.
An Australian survivor Ben Tullipan, 37, who had both his legs blown off in the blast sat in his wheelchair and listened to Samudra's plea.
"I came here to see the (man) who did this to me," he said emotionally. "It's very hard to get over."