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Indonesia passes emergency terrorism laws JAKARTA - Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has signed into law two decrees expanding powers of police to deal with terrorism in the wake of last weekend's deadly bomb attacks on the island of Bali. The new laws give authorities sweeping powers to detain terror suspects without charge for up to six months and provides for the death penalty for convicted terrorists.
"After what happened in Bali, Indonesia urgently needs a law to fight terrorism," Justice Minister Yusril Izha Mahendra told reporters after an emergency cabinet session Friday. "By having this decree, we have the authority to take action against terrorism," he added. The new laws will be made retroactive to cover those responsible for the Bali bombings.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts. More than 180 people died and hundreds were injured in Saturday's attack, the majority of them young Western tourists in the packed Sari nightclub in the resort town of Kuta. Most of the casualties came from Australia which is holding a day of national mourning Sunday to remember the victims.
Australian officials meanwhile have issued new travel advice to its citizens warning them to leave the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, following intelligence reports that parts of the city may be targets for new attacks.

Almost 100 investigators from seven countries are in Indonesia to aid the hunt for the bombers, which is being jointly run by Indonesia and Australia. As the investigation into the attack continues, Indonesian police have announced that they want to question a Muslim cleric accused of leading an Islamic terrorist group.
Abu Bakar Ba'asyir has been named by neighboring countries and Western intelligence agencies as the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiya group. However, he was hospitalized Friday after he fainted during a news conference and it is unlikely police will begin interrogations until after he given the all-clear.
During prayers earlier in the day Ba'asyir openly prayed for the safety of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the Associated Press reported.

Although Western intelligence agencies have named several groups and individuals, including Ba'asyir, as having suspected terrorist links, the Indonesian government has been slow to act because of fears of sparking an extremist Islamic backlash. Indonesia is the world's most populous Islamic nation, although the overwhelming majority of Indonesians follow a moderate form of Islam.
Facing intense international pressure in the wake of the Bali attacks, the Indonesian government was forced to withdraw the anti-terrorism legislation from parliament -- where it had become bogged down in debate -- and fast-track it into law by emergency decree.
However, the new laws have already raised concerns among some human rights groups wary of giving security forces increased powers. They say the move risks repeating the kind of human rights abuses that occurred during the regime of former President Suharto.
Announcing the news laws Justice Minister Mahendra sought to downplay fears that the legislation would be used to target only Muslim groups. "Opinions in some sections of society that the decrees are aimed at arresting militant Islamic leaders are wrong," he said. "The government respects and highly regards Islam as the majority of our people are Muslims." "The president and vice president and the majority of the cabinet are Muslim therefore they automatically respect Islam," he added.



Posted in Terrorism @ 19 October 2002 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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