Two Jailed for Aiding Fugitive Top

JAKARTA ~ A court has handed long jail sentences to two Muslim men for assisting acts of terrorism linked to Southeast Asia’s most wanted man, Noordin Muhammad Top, a judge said.

“Joko Wibowo, alias Abu Sayyaf, was handed a 12-year jail sentence and later, in a separate trial, defendant Joko Suroso, alias Joko Padang, was given 10 years in jail,” Judge Budi Hartono, who headed the panel of judges in both trials in Semarang, Central Java, said on Wednesday.

Hartono said Wibowo was found guilty of illegally possessing a handgun and bullets, which he claimed he had obtained while helping Muslims during sectarian violence in Ambon in 2001.

In April 2005, the gun and ammunition were lent to Subur Sugiarto, a close aide to Noordin, and used for paramilitary exercises held by his group in nearby Ungaran, the judge said.

Sugiarto has since been jailed for life.

Wibowo’s sentence was less than the 20 years prosecutors had recommended, he said.

Suroso, who owns a restaurant in Semarang, was jailed for 10 years for helping to hide Noordin at his restaurant in September 2005, and failing to notify the authorities, Hartono said. Prosecutors had recommended 15 years.

Suroso had also lent Noordin a video camera, rented a computer for him and allowed his restaurant to be used for meetings held by Noordin and his acolytes.

Both defendants asked for a week in which to decide whether to appeal, Hartono said.

Noordin and his fellow Malaysian, Azahari Husin, who was killed during a police raid last November, were key members of the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah extremist network, blamed for a series of terrorist attacks across the country.

Analysts have said they may have split off to form their own more militant group.

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