Key Player in 2002 Bali Bombings Sentenced to Death

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Delivering the first verdict for last year's Bali bombings (search), an Indonesian court Thursday convicted and sentenced to death a key player in the attack that killed 202 people.

Amrozi bin Nurhasyim (search) was found guilty of planning and helping execute the bombings -- a verdict that could help end Indonesia's reputation as being soft on terrorists.

"The accused is found guilty in a legal and convincing manner of carrying out an act of terrorism," Judge I Made Karna said.

After the verdict was read, Amrozi took off his Islamic cap, raised his arms and gave his lawyers the thumbs-up sign. Hundreds of people, including survivors of the bombings, cheered when the judge read the sentence.

As he was led out of the courtroom, Amrozi smiled broadly at Australian survivors, some of whom shouted back angrily. Australia lost 88 people in the attack.

The verdict came two days after another bomb exploded at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, killing at least 10 people and wounding nearly 150. Both attacks have been linked with Jemaah Islamiyah (search), a shadowy Al Qaeda (search)-linked terrorist group believed to be operating in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia's government has been eager to show the world that it is committed to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

If the Amrozi verdict is followed by similar convictions for other alleged bombers, Indonesia's notoriously inefficient judicial system could get a much needed boost in its efforts to confront Islamic extremism.

Amrozi's was the first of at least three dozen cases to come to trial for the bombing.

"The Balinese people will be rejoicing today," said Julia Ika Setiani, a university student who attended the trial. "My family and my friends have suffered because of this grisly bombing."

Natalie Yuniardi, an Indonesian whose Australian husband died in the blast, came to court with her baby on her arms. She wept after the verdict was read.

"I will only be happy when all of them are put to death," she said.

Most of Bali's 3 million people are Hindu, unlike the rest of Indonesia's 207 million people who are predominantly Muslim. Several of the alleged bombers said they picked the venue to kill as many Westerners as possible to avenge the treatment of fellow Muslims in other parts of the world.

Amrozi, a 41-year-old mechanic from the island of Java, has been called the "smiling bomber" because of his jocular manner and lack of remorse after his arrest last year. During a peer's trial, he grinned and yelled out "Bomb!" when asked about Tuesday's explosion in Jakarta.

Although Indonesian law allows for death sentences to be handed down for crimes such as murder and terrorism, in practice executions are rare.

Amrozi's attorney, Wirawan Adnan, said they will appeal the sentence "not because we believe he is innocent, but because he was mistreated and was not been given a fair trial. We do not believe that he deserves the death penalty, he was not the mastermind."

Maj. Gen. Made Pastika, who led the Bali investigation, told reporters Thursday that only six suspects in the Bali attacks remain on the loose.

These include Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, believed to be Jemaah Islamiyah's operations chief and Usama bin Laden's point man in Southeast Asia.

Prosecutors said that while Amrozi did not participate in the actual attack, he purchased a van and explosives used in the car bomb that flattened the crowded Sari Club and nearby Paddy's Bar.

However, Amrozi's brother, Ali Imron, testified that Amrozi had participated in plotting sessions and had purchased the vehicle.

Prosecutors allege the Bali strike was part of a campaign by Jemaah Islamiyah to set up a fundamentalist Islamic state in Southeast Asia.