Guantanamo court expects guilty plea from Malaysian linked to Indonesia bombings

John Bechtel
Guantanamo court expects guilty plea from Malaysian linked to Indonesia bombings Flags fly in front of the tents of Camp Justice in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, April 18, 2019.
Alex Brandon/AP

A Malaysian man incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay since 2006 is prepared to plead guilty to terrorism charges, a court document shows, a move that would enable him to return home and could be discussed during hearings next week.

The document named Malaysian national Mohammed Farik bin Amin and ordered him to be present for a court hearing on Monday at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. 

He and another Malaysian, Mohammed Nazir bin Lep, who is also imprisoned at Guantanamo, have been charged by the U.S. military in connection with deadly bombings in Bali and Jakarta in 2002 and 2003.

“The commission will call for the accused to enter pleas consistent with the terms of the offer for pretrial agreement. … The Commission will conduct an inquiry into the providence of the Accused’s plea,” the document stated.

“The Commission will also inquire into the terms and conditions of the PTA [pretrial agreement] to ensure there is an agreement between the convening authority and the accused and a shared understanding of the meaning and effect of the terms of the PTA,” it said.

A subsequent document in this chain added the second defendant.

“It has since been amended to include Mohammed Nazir bin Lep,” Ron Flesvig, spokesman for the Office of Military Commissions, told BenarNews. 

Flesvig said he is not sure if any plea deal would occur on Monday.

The court has allowed bin Lep’s lead attorney, Brian Bouffard, and two others assigned to the case to be absent from the two-day session on Monday and Tuesday because they will be “engaged in mission-related work in Southeast Asia.” 

Details of that work were not released.

Bin Amin and bin Lep have been charged with conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, terrorism, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, and destruction of property linked to deadly bombings in Bali and Jakarta. Those include twin bombings that killed 202 people in Bali in October 2002 – Indonesia’s worst-ever terrorist attack.

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Police officers inspect the ruins of a nightclub destroyed by a bomb blast in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, Oct. 13, 2002. [AP file photo]

Bin Amin’s lead attorney, Christine Funk, did not immediately respond to a BenarNews request for comment. 

Bouffard, meanwhile, told The New York Times, “Mr. bin Lep will fully cooperate with the U.S. government.”

Cases separated

The two Malaysians, along with Indonesian Encep Nurjaman (also known as Hambali) have been locked up at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo for 17 years. 

Following their arrests in Thailand in 2003, the three were sent to secret CIA prisons overseas – so-called black sites – where they were tortured, according to a 2014 U.S. Senate report. 

Hambali is scheduled to appear alone at a two-day hearing beginning Wednesday. The three were to be tried together, but the court separated bin Lep’s and bin Amin’s cases from Hambali’s.

In September, BenarNews reported that Malaysian officials had met with counterparts in the U.S. to allow the pair to return home.

Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said he discussed the matter with Tina Kaidanow, the U.S. special representative for Guantanamo affairs while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. He also said he had traveled to Cuba to meet with the two defendants but did not say when that meeting occurred.

“[T]heir story really touched me. It’s a downward spiral about life, about repentance, about the chance to be a better person,” Saifuddin said in a Facebook post he quickly removed. “With God’s grace, we will try to expedite the process for them to return to Malaysia.” 

At that time, attorney Jim Hodes told BenarNews that his client, Hambali, was pleased that bin Lep and bin Amin likely would be able to return to Malaysia.

“He’s hoping that will be the end result for him as well,” Hodes said.


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