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Govt says Bashir not a terrorist JAKARTA - The Indonesian Government says there is no evidence to label Abu Bakar Bashir, a Muslim clerk and alleged spiritual leader of a radical Muslim group, as a terrorist. The statement comes after international criticism over a reduction of his prison term that will allow for his release next month.
''We have to be able to distinguish between labelling someone as being involved or not being involved in terrorism and a legal process that needs hard evidence,'' Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said. ''Labelling makes people expect that someone must be punished, but a legal process requires strong evidence to punish someone,'' he said. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court reduced Bashir's sentence to 18 months from three years for immigration offences.
Bashir is believed to be the spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) militant group, which has alleged links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network and is accused of being behind the Bali bombings in October 2002 that killed more than 200 people. He was arrested shortly after the bombings. The sentence reduction immediately raised expressions of disappointment from overseas governments, including Australia, Singapore and the United States.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer expressed his Government's disappointment over the reduction of Bashir's prison term, saying there was no doubt ''Bashir is the so-called spiritual leader of JI.'' US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US believes ''there was extensive evidence presented at his trial that describes his leadership role and his personal involvement in terrorist activities.''
Bashir was initially sentenced to four years in jail last September by the Central Jakarta District Court for treason, falsification of identification cards and immigration offences.He was found guilty of participating in seditious acts by trying to have Islamic sharia law imposed in Indonesia, but was cleared of the charge that he headed JI.
On December 1 the Jakarta High Court cleared Bashir of the conviction for treason and reduced the four-year prison term to three years for document forgery and immigration offences. He appealed the ruling to the top court.



Posted in Terrorism @ 12 March 2004 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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