Prosecutors demand 20 years jail term for suspect in US teacher killings in Indonesia

Indonesian prosecutors Friday demanded seven men on trial for the murders of two American teachers at a U.S. gold mine in Papua province serve between 8 and 20 years in jail, the suspects' lawyer said.

The men, all alleged members of Papua's rebel movement, walked out of the court before the sentence recommendations were read out in protest at what they have always maintained is an unfair trial, said attorney Johnson Panjaitan.

Prosecutors demanded the alleged ringleader in the killings 30-year-old Antonius Wamang serve 20 years for premeditated murder, said Panjaitan. Three of the others should serve 15 years, while the final three should serve eight, prosecutors said, according to Panjaitan.

The men are accused of opening fire on a vehicle carrying Rickey Lynn Spier, 44, of Littleton, Colorado, and Leon Edwin Burgon, 71, of Sun River, Oregon in 2002 with the mistaken belief that it was carrying soldiers hired to guard the mine.

An Indonesian teacher traveling in the convoy was also killed in the ambush on an isolated road leading to the mine, owned by New Orleans-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Mine Inc.

Panjaitan said the men were convinced they could not get a fair trial in Jakarta and were demanding to be tried in Papua.

"Since the beginning we have said this trial is a sham," he said.

Under Indonesian law, judges are free to ignore prosecutor demands when sentencing, reports AP.

Lawyers will respond to the sentence recommendations at the next hearing.

Prosecutors allege the men were members of a small rebel army fighting for a separate state in the resource-rich eastern province. The mine has long been held by separatists as a symbol of Jakarta-rule over the province.

The attack initially complicated ties between Jakarta and Washington amid suspicions that Indonesian security forces were involved. The FBI, which was involved in the arrests of the men last year, has unearthed no evidence to back up those suspicions.