An Indonesian court on Friday sentenced to death an Islamic State-linked cleric accused of the January 2016 bombings in Jakarta that killed eight people, including four attackers.
Last month, prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Aman Abdurrahman, the 46-year-old leader of a pro-Islmaic State group, over the bombings and four other attacks.
(Aman Abdurrahman at the South Jakarta District Court on May 18, 2018)
Reading out the verdict of a five-judge panel at the South Jakarta District Court, Presiding Judge Ahmad Zaini said the court had found Aman "legally and convincingly" guilty of committing terrorism.
"The defendant's role is very important because his religious outreach has incited his followers to commit terror acts," the verdict said, adding that the attacks "claimed a lot of lives, ruined the future of a child who was killed" in one of them.
Aman's lawyers said they will consider whether to appeal the verdict.
It was the first death penalty handed down for terrorism in 13 years since Islamist militants Iwan Darmawan Muntho and Ahmad Hasan were sentenced to death for bombing the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2004.
Soon after the verdict was issued, Aman prostrated, expressing gratitude to God for the verdict.
A group of counterterrorism police personnel immediately surrounded Aman and covered his body, sparking protests from cameramen and photographers who were allowed into the courtroom.
One of the personnel, who asked not to be named, said they had to cover his body "because his prostration might be a sign to his followers to move (launch attacks)."
In a sign of the attention the cleric's case has drawn, the court was packed with journalists from the morning, with counterterrorist police and snipers guarding the court compound amid tight security.
Aman's trial started in mid-February, six months after he completed a prison term for a previous terrorism conviction. His sentence had been commuted on the occasion of the country's Independence Day on Aug. 17, but he was arrested again upon his release.
The Jan. 14, 2016, attacks, including bombings at a Starbucks outlet and a traffic police post, killed a Canadian and three other civilians, while leaving 26 people injured.
More than 40 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks -- most of them members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, the Islamic State-linked group set up by Aman.
Aman has also been indicted for provoking other militants to launch attacks on a Christian church in the East Kalimantan provincial capital Samarinda in November 2016 that killed a 2-year-old girl and injured four other children aged between 2 and 8.
He also allegedly provoked his followers to carry out bombings at the Kampung Melayu public bus terminal in East Jakarta in May last year that claimed the lives of three members of the police.
Aman is also known to have had a hand in the Islamist insurgency that engulfed the southern Philippine city of Marawi last year.
In June last year, from his prison cell, he instructed group members to join forces with Islamic State-linked militants fighting Philippine soldiers and police in the then besieged city, according to National Counterterrorism Agency chief Suhardi Alius.
Aman was earlier sentenced to seven years in prison in 2004 for a failed terrorist plot in Depok in the suburbs of Jakarta.
While in prison he met Abu Bakar Bashir, spiritual leader of al-Qaida's Southeast Asia splinter group Jemaah Islamiyah, who was then serving time for terrorism.
Aman was released from jail in 2008 after receiving remission for good behavior.
Soon after his release, he collaborated with Bashir to form an Islamist training camp in Aceh Province in the northern part of Sumatra Island in 2010 that united different factions of terrorist groups.
His involvement in the Aceh camp landed him in jail again in December that year. He was sentenced to nine years in prison for financing the camp, while Bashir got 15 years.
Since late 2016, he had been held in solitary confinement at the Nusakambangan prison in a bid to curb his influence.
After his imprisonment, Aman allegedly delegated the leadership of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah to Zainal Anshori, who was sentenced to seven years in prison last month for procuring weapons from the southern Philippines for terrorist attacks in Indonesia.