Indonesia Suspect Admits To Beheadings Christian Girls; Apologizes For His Actions

Thursday, November 16, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BosNewsLife) -- A suspected Muslim militant on Wednesday, November 15, admitted he was involved in the beheadings of three Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia last year and asked "forgiveness" from the families of the victims.

Hasanuddin, 34, told a Jakarta court he helped plan the attack but he rejected allegations he masterminded it. He said he wanted to avenge the killing of scores of Muslims at a boarding school in 2000, during the peak of Muslim-Christian violence in the Poso region of Central Sulawesi province.

The defendant and two other suspects are tried under Indonesia's anti-terror laws and could face death by firing squad if found guilty. "I was indeed involved in the beheadings," Hasanuddin told the court. "With honesty and sincerity coming from my heart, I ask for forgiveness from the families of the victims. I promise to never repeat it again," he added, according to transcripts monitored by BosNewsLife.

The three schoolgirls, identified by Christian sources as Theresia Morangke, 15, Alfita Poliwo, 17 and Yarni Sambue, 15, were killed as they walked to the private Christian school near their home in the town of Poso, in central Sulawesi. One of their heads was discovered outside a church. A fourth girl, 15-year-old Noviana Malewa, received serious injuries to her face and neck, but managed to escape and report what had happened, Christians and officials said.


The beheadings triggered an outcry across Indonesia and fears within the Christian community of a repeat of the widespread clashes in the world's most populous Muslim nation. The Vatican described the attack as "barbaric".

Prosecutors last week accused Hasanuddin of masterminding the atrocity although they said he did not take part in the actual ambush. The prosecution said earlier that co-defendants Lilik Purnomo and Irwanto Irano were following Hasanuddin's orders when they carried out the October 29, 2005, attack against the girls on their way to school.

"Irwanto Irano was assigned to lead the ambush on the small path assisted by four other members of the group. Lilik Purnomo was the field coordinator assigned to observe the situation," the prosecution said. Lead prosecutor Asep Maryono said the two defendants faced charges of criminal conspiracy in a terrorist crime and premeditated murder, both offences carry the maximum penalty of death.


Abu Bakar Rasyide, a defense lawyer for Purnomo and Irano, told reporters that he "cannot accept the charges because they are not based on facts." Experts say the trials could last for months.

It comes as tensions have risen in recent weeks following the execution of three Christians in September, for alleged attacks against Muslims in 2000. Human rights groups however questioned the evidence against the three men Fabianus Tibo, 61, Marianus Riwu, 48, and Dominggus Silva, 38.

Over 1,000 people are believed to have been killed during two years of religious violence, which was reportedly triggered by a brawl between rival religious gangs in December 1998. (With BosNewsLife reporting and reports from Indonesia).

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