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Ba'ashir found guilty of Bali bomb plot JAKARTA - Fiery Muslim preacher Abu Bakar Bashir was found guilty of an "evil conspiracy" to commit the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings by an Indonesian court on Thursday and sentenced to two and a half years in jail. But the court found the 66-year-old cleric not guilty of involvement in the 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people.

"The defendant has been proven legally and convincingly to have committed the crime of evil conspiracy that caused fire that left other people dead," chief judge Soedarto said, reading the Bali verdict. A statement read out by one of the five judges said Bashir had not been directly involved in carrying out the Bali blasts but had given his approval. "The defendant knew that the perpetrators of the bombing were people who have been trained in bombmaking in Pakistan and Afghanistan...the conditions of evil conspiracy have been met," the statement said.
Prosecutors had sought eight years in jail for Bashir on various terrorism and criminal charges related to bomb attacks. Western governments accuse Bashir of being the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, seen as the regional arm of al Qaeda. The United States was quick to express unhappiness over the sentence. "We respect the independence and judgment of the Indonesian courts, but given the gravity of the charges on which he was convicted, we're disappointed at the length of the sentence," said Max Kwak, a spokesman for U.S. Embassy in Jakarta.
Bashir's defense had argued throughout the trial that he had been the victim of a U.S. plot. The five-judge panel said Bashir's sentence would have the 10 months he has already served deducted from it. A charge that he inspired the bombings as a leader of Jemaah Islamiah had been dropped earlier by prosecutors due to a lack of evidence. Bashir had been charged with criminal acts of arson and explosion in relation to the October 2002 blasts on Bali, and under anti-terrorism laws in connection with a Jakarta hotel bombing.
He has denied all the charges as well as the existence of Jemaah Islamiah and said he would appeal if found guilty. As the court session started on Thursday, Bashir urged supporters to stay calm amid tight security by some two-thousand of police officers. "We are allowed to get angry. A ruling that does not free me is injustice," Bashir told supporters in the courtroom as the session began. "But when we get angry, we must have our limits. There must not be any destruction or disruption,."
The verdict was met with outrage by Bashir supporters in and outside the court. Many raised their fists screaming "Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest). Some stood on chairs as police formed a cordon around them. As he was led out, Bashir smiled broadly. The trial, which began in October last year, is the second time prosecutors in the world's most populous Muslim nation have gone after Bashir. The first effort to convict him of leading the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah using laws against subversion was thrown out by judges because of a lack of evidence.
Bashir did, however, serve 18 months for immigration offences and was released last April, only to be immediately re-arrested on the new charges. Police have said they would use "maximum force" against any disturbances by Bashir's supporters. "We found signs that there are molotov cocktails here although this needs to be investigated. This may be used by a third party to inflame the situation," Jakarta police chief Firman Gani told reporters.
The trial was seen as a test case for Indonesia's judicial attempts to grapple with terrorism six years after the end of the rule of military dictator Suharto.



Posted in Terrorism @ 03 March 2005 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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