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Indonesians charged in girls’ deaths

From the Associated Press

Three Muslim men have been charged in the beheadings of three Christian girls in an Indonesian province fraught with sectarian tension, and the suspects could face death sentences if convicted, lawyers said Friday.

Lilik Purnomo, Irwanto Irano and Hasanuddin, who goes by one name, are being charged under Indonesia’s anti-terrorism law in the deaths of the girls and the wounding of a fourth in Central Sulawesi province in 2005, a statement from the attorney general’s office said.

Fighting between Christians and Muslims from 1998 to 2002 left at least 1,000 people dead in the region. A peace agreement ended the worst of the violence, but tensions flared after the execution last month of three Roman Catholic militants convicted of leading a 2000 attack on an Islamic school that killed at least 70 people.

Critics say those men did not get a fair trial and allege that religion played a role in their sentencing, noting that only a handful of Muslims were punished.

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In the weeks following the executions, mobs killed two Muslim traders and a prominent Christian priest.


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