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Trial begins in Indonesia over Islamist plot to bomb Myanmar Embassy

The trial has begun over a plot to attack the Myanmar Embassy in Indonesia. In the indictment, prosecutors charged suspects with violating anti-terrorism laws, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of death.

On Wednesday, prosecutors told the South Jakarta District Court that 29-year-old Separiano, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, and four others wanted to retaliate against Buddhist-majority Myanmar for attacks there on ethnic Rohingya Muslims.

Separiano stands accused of attempting to commit an act of terrorism or assisting in the commission of such an act, and plotting to commit a terrorist act that could result in casualties or damage to buildings. Other suspects should go on trial later this week.

"They wanted to bomb the embassy because of anger over Myanmar's treatment of Muslims," Susilo, the prosecutor, said.

According to the police, officers arrested Separiano and another suspect on May 3 while the pair rode a motorbike to the embassy in Jakarta. Police say officers seized five homemade bombs from a backpack that Separiano and the other suspect had on them and that they later also found other explosive materials at the pair's rented house in the capital.

Days later, police arrested three other suspects, including Sigit Indrajit, the alleged mastermind and leader of the Negara Islam Indonesia group, which translates as the Islamic State of Indonesia.

'Facebook conspiracy'

In April, Separiano often logged in to "his Facebook account and chatted with Sigit, who posted a lot of news about the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, which attracted a lot of comments saying there should be retaliation against the infidel Buddhists," the prosecutor said.

At one point, Indrajid posted on Facebook that people should target "the Myanmar embassy to avenge the slaughter of Muslims in Myanmar," Susilo added.

He said Sigit then wrote that "we will set off our explosion as a surprise for the embassy."

According to the prosecutor, Separiano replied: "Yes, OK."

Scores of people have died in sectarian violence that has driven thousands of Muslims from their homes in Myanmar. Members of the Rohingya ethnic group in particular face severe discrimination. Though many Rohingya claim Myanmar as their birthplace, some ethnic Burmese and authorities consider them unlawful migrants from Bangladesh.

Indonesia has battled terrorists since bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

mkg/tj (AFP, AP)