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Francis Chan and Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja
The Straits Times
9 March 2017
Two suspects - including the leader of a Batam terrorist cell - who are accused of planning to fire a rocket at Marina Bay have denied having any part in the foiled attack.
The alleged leader, Gigih Rahmat Dewa, and his accomplice, Hadi Gusti Yanda, were back in court as the trial against them - which started on Feb 1 - resumed yesterday.
Speaking to The Straits Times, Gigih said there was no such plan, while Hadi claimed it was a trumped-up charge. "That is a story made up by Densus," Hadi said, referring to the Detachment 88 counter-terrorism police unit, known as Densus 88.
The two Indonesians, and three other members of the cell, were arrested in Batam last August in connection with the terror plot targeted at Singapore.
Follow-up raids by Densus 88 at their homes found weapons such as a bow and arrow and an airsoft gun modified to resemble an AK-47 assault rifle - but no rocket.
A sixth member, Leonardus Hutajulu, was arrested in September.
Among his possessions seized were an airsoft replica of an assault rifle, two mobile phones, an Indonesian passport and a travel itinerary with Singapore as the destination.
Gigih and Hadi, as well as Tarmidzi, Eka Saputra and Trio Syafidro, pleaded not guilty when they were charged in court on Jan 24 in connection with the terror plot. They were also charged with harbouring militants and funding terror activities.
The police did not reply to queries regarding Gigih and Hadi's claims about Densus 88 by press time.
The case drew much attention owing to the audacious nature of the alleged plan and how quickly Densus 88 managed to round up the members of the cell behind it.
The progress of the trial, however, has been slow, noted East Jakarta District Court Judge Tarigan Muda Limbong, who was presiding over the sixth hearing of the case.
He took issue with the prosecution, after only two witnesses - out of 16 who were scheduled to testify - showed up. He also criticised the prosecutors for turning up four hours late for the hearing yesterday.
Counter-terrorism analyst Adhe Bhakti, from the Centre for Radicalism and Deradicalisation Studies, said the hearing must be completed six months from the date the case was presented to the court, which was Jan 24.
"If there is no verdict within that window of time, the defendants, by the law, must be released," he added.