Indonesia (MNN) — Five Muslim militants charged with involvement in a string of deadly attacks against Christians in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province went on trial this week. The men have been charged under the country's anti-terrorism laws.
According to prosecutors, the attacks included the assassination of a pastor, the beheading of three Christian school girls in the Poso district of Sulawesi, and a bomb attack on a market that killed one passerby.
Under Indonesia's anti-terrorism law, the defendants could face the death penalty.
Poso has been plagued with Muslim-Christian violence between 1998 and 2001 that left more than 2,000 people dead. Even though a peace accord was signed in 2001, there has been sporadic violence. Prosecution against such attacks has been rare.
The five defendants, who were arrested earlier this year, are being tried in four separate court sessions at the South Jakarta district court. The group includes Muhammad Basri and Adrin Djanatu, who police believe were the leaders of a local group allegedly linked to the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) regional militant network. JI is blamed for a string of bomb attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people.
State prosecutor Narendra Jadnya said at Basri's court hearing that the attacks involving the defendants over the past three years were intended to interfere with the growing number of Christians in the region.
Pray that these court proceedings will continue without violence and that Christians will be a testimony during this time.