Published April 20, 2010
JAKARTA, Indonesia – JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian court Tuesday sentenced an in-law of the man once reputed to be Southeast Asia's most-wanted terror suspect to eight years in jail for helping his relative elude authorities until his death in a shootout last year.
Saefudin Zuhri, 40, was convicted under the country's anti-terror laws of harboring alleged militant mastermind Noordin Top and failing to inform authorities of his presence despite knowing he was the target of a major manhunt. The two men were related by marriage.
Noordin, a Malaysian who eluded capture for more than seven years before he was killed in a police shootout last September, was said to be an al-Qaida-funded bomb-maker. He was wanted in connection with five major bombings in Indonesia since 2002, including blasts in Bali that year that left more than 200 dead.
He was also accused of ties to twin suicide attacks last July at the Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott hotels in Jakarta that killed seven and wounded 50. Those strikes ended a four-year lull in terrorist attacks in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.
Zuhri was arrested three weeks before those attacks in central Java after police seized explosives buried near his home. Police accused him of renting Noordin a house in 2005 and of meeting with him on several occasions and failing to inform authorities of his whereabouts.
Zuhri and Noordin were related by marriage, their wives being cousins.
"The defendant deliberately gave assistance to those most wanted by the police," South Jakarta court presiding Judge Haryanto said in the ruling.
Zuhri had argued that he did not know Noordin's true identity, a claim the court rejected.
The court found that Zuhri not only knew who Noordin was but had introduced him to a terror group in south Sumatra led by Mohammad Hasan bin Saynudin, a Singaporean convicted of a failed plot to blow up the main airport there in 2001.
Zuhri's lawyer Ashludin Hatjani said they planned to appeal.