Bali suspect Umar Patek 'never met Osama Bin Laden'
- 20 February 2012
- From the section Asia
Umar Patek, an alleged mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombing, denied meeting al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani town they were both in.
In a video of his interrogation obtained by the AP news agency, Mr Patek said his presence in Abbottabad at the same time was "a coincidence".
He is facing six charges in Jakarta, Indonesia, including two that are terrorism-related.
He is believed to be a key member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah.
Mr Patek's lawyer also said on Monday that his presence in Abbottabad at the same time as Osama Bin Laden was a coincidence.
"He went to Pakistan as part of his plans to migrate to Afghanistan. He never had plans to meet Osama bin Laden," defence lawyer Asludin Hatjani is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.
Security analysts believe, however, that it was no coincidence that he was caught in the same town in which al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was later killed. Officials cannot confirm whether the two met.
Mr Patek, who was arrested in January 2011 in the town where Osama bin Laden was later killed in a US raid, faces charges for pre-meditated murder, bomb-making and illegal firearms possession. Some of his charges carry the death penalty.
In August, the 45-year-old militant was extradited to Indonesia in a move seen at the time as a significant coup for anti-terror agencies in the country.
Mr Patek is not facing terrorism charges for the Bali bombings, as the terrorism law came into effect only in 2003 and cannot be applied retrospectively.
But he is facing terrorism charges for allegedly harbouring terrorists and possessing ammunition used to launch militant training in Aceh province in 2010.
He is also facing murder charges for the Bali bombings and Jakarta church bombings in 2000.
On Monday, his lawyers objected to the murder charges, telling the court that he was not involved in the planning of the attack.
In a document obtained by the BBC from the defence, his lawyers argued that he was not directly involved in any actual killings, as his role was limited to making the bombs.
The trial, which began last week, is expected to go on for months, with a verdict likely to be delivered at the end of May or early June.
Prosecutors in Indonesia have said that they will push for the maximum death penalty, but some analysts think he could be given life imprisonment instead if found guilty.
The Bali attack in 2002 took place at Paddy's Bar and the Sari Club in the resort of Kuta. It targeted at foreigners and those killed were from 21 countries, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and 28 Britons.
According to a court document obtained by the BBC last week, he fled to the Philippines after the attacks in Bali, and joined the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) there, with the intention of going to Afghanistan.
In June 2009, he returned to Indonesia with his Philippine wife Ruqayyah Husein Luceno, hiding for a year in Jakarta and other parts of the country, before heading to Pakistan where he was finally apprehended.