Indonesia’s first accused would-be female suicide bomber and her husband appeared in a Jakarta area court Wednesday to stand trial on charges stemming from their alleged botched attempt to attack the Presidential Palace in the nation’s capital last year.
Defendants Dian Yulia Novi and Muhammad Nur Solihin face charges of conspiring, attempting or assisting the crime of terrorism based on Indonesia’s Anti-Terrorism Law that carry a maximum life sentence.
“The trial process is ongoing. Today is only the second day. It will probably take about three months,” defense lawyer Fariz told BenarNews on Wednesday. “We will try to defend them so they do not get the maximum sentence charged by prosecutors.”
The trial at the East Jakarta District Court opened on May 31.
The prosecution team could not be reached for comment.
In May, Dian was indicted on charges of preparing to be a suicide bomber with the help of her husband, an alleged leader of a terrorist cell. If not for police intervention, she would have been the first female suicide bomber in Indonesia.
In the earlier court session, the couple admitted that they married for the purpose of committing a terror attack during a changing-of-the-guard ceremony outside the presidential palace, on Dec. 11, 2016.
During a TV interview shortly after their arrests on Dec. 10, the couple told the same story, saying they were being directed by someone whom they believed was Bahrun Naim, a leading Indonesian figure of the extremist Islamic State (IS) group.
Testimony on Wednesday featured the owner of the rented room where Dian stayed and where police arrested her. The witness, who was not identified, said he did not know that the two were planning a suicide bombing.
Police found a presser-cooker bomb that was ready to be detonated.
“The witness did not know about what the defendants did inside the room. So the judge also cannot dig for more information,” said Fariz, who, like many Indonesians, uses one name.
Woman came up with suicide plan
The indictment states that Dian came up with the plan and was aided by Nur Solihin, who shared her vision about jihad (holy war) and being a suicide bomber as “a way to please God.” Her husband, who already had a wife, married Dian to help prepare for the attack, according to the indictment.
Nur Solihin took on Dian as his second wife because a fatwa issued by IS required women to have permission of their fathers or husbands “to carry out any activities outside their home – even for worshipping, including by becoming a martyr,” according to a report published earlier this year by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), a Jakarta think-tank.
“From the beginning they had the same idea to take action that they believed to be jihad,” Fariz, the defense attorney, said, referring to the two wives of Nur Solihin.
The couple was arrested in two separate locations along with five other suspects. Nur Solihin’s first wife was among those arrested on suspicion of participating in his terror cell.
Lawyer: Dian is a victim
Fariz said Dian was a victim of a radical doctrine and he did not believe that Nur Solihin had encouraged her.
“Dian’s position in this case is a victim. Moreover, they did not have time to do the action. This will be our material to defend them later,” the lawyer said.
Fariz said he had a tough time gathering information to support Dian’s case because she did not want to talk privately with the lawyers. According to her conservative Muslim’s belief, she must be accompanied by at least four people, which could include prison wardens.
Previously, reports surfaced that Nur Solihin had taught Dian about suicide bombing after receiving instructions and funding from Bahrun Naim, who is believed to be in Syria and leading Malay-speaking IS fighters.
Letters to parents
After police arrested Dian, they seized two letters from Dian to her parents in Cirebon, West Java. She wrote to tell them that this was her path to defend her religion.
“God willing, someday we will regroup in a more beautiful place. This is my way of worshiping my religion and to you, my parents. Don’t you ever hate my way,” she wrote a few days after her arrest.
The trial will resume on June 21. At least 12 witnesses are expected to testify.