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Bali suspect tortured, lawyer says

February 26 2003

A prime suspect in the Bali bombing will recant in court his confession implicating Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir in the blasts because it was made under police torture, the suspect's lawyer said yesterday.

Lawyer Qadhar Faisal said Imam Samudra involuntarily implicated Bashir after police stripped him, showered him with water all night while he was blindfolded and slapped him in the face.

Police also inserted iron objects between Samudra's toes and twisted the toes together, the lawyer alleged.

Mr Faisal said investigators had asked Samudra if Bashir is the leader of the Jemaah Islamiah regional terror network, which is blamed for the Bali bombing, and if he had met Bashir before and after the attack on October 12.

Samudra said "Yes" because he could not stand the torture, according to his lawyer.

"The fact that he has put another person's life in danger is excruciating for him," Mr Faisal said. "He will recant his forced confession in court."

Bali police spokesman Yatim Suyatmo said he had not directly heard of such claims of torture.

"The fact is there are no signs of torture on Imam's body and investigators have also said they have never used violent means," Mr Suyatmo said.

Police have said they expect the first trial or trials to start next month in Bali, although the venue has yet to be decided.

Police say Samudra, 35, was the "field commander" and the person most responsible for the bombings that ripped through two nightspots and killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

Police suspect a wider involvement by Jemaah Islamiah.

Indonesian police and regional leaders say Bashir, who is detained in Jakarta, is Jemaah Islamiah's spiritual leader. Police say they expect to charge the 64-year-old cleric over the Bali bombings.


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