Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Trials of three men accused of beheading Poso school girls begin

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The trials begin today of three Muslim men accused of grusomely beheading three young Christian girls in the divided district of Poso and facing possible execution if convicted under anti-terrorism laws.

The trials of the three -- Hasanuddin, Lilik Purnomo and Irwanto Irano -- will open later Wednesday at the Central Jakarta District Court.

Prosecutors have said the trials were bring held in Jakarta, not in Central Sulawesi, because of "security considerations".

The three defendants have been detained in Jakarta for several months already. Hasanuddin would be tried separately, while the two others would sit together on the defendant's bench at the same court.

An official of the Attorney General's office said last week the three would be charged under anti-terrorism laws for engaging in "an act of terrorism by using force that caused the loss of lives" in the October 2005 killings.

The girls were walking home when they were beheaded by machete in Poso's Gebang Rejo area on October 29, 2005. Two of their heads were found near a police post and the third was discovered outside a Christian church.

The incident sparked public indignation in Indonesia and overseas.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono condemned the killings and Pope Benedict XVI
deplored what he described as "barbaric murder".

Poso and its surrounding district has been the scene of sporadic unrest since violence between Muslims and Christians claimed about 1,000 lives in 2000-2001.

Muslims and Christians live in roughly equal numbers in Poso. But Muslims have accused the police, especially its paramilitary unit Brimob, of favouring Christians.

Militants, who rioted against and are hiding the other suspects from the police, "have accused Brimob of favoring Christians". Let's get that clear please!!

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