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Indonesia cuts Bashir sentence JAKARTA - An Indonesian court has cut a 30-month sentence handed to militant Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir for his role in the Bali bombings by more than four months, a prison official said today. "He received a remission of four months and 15 days," Dedi Sutardi, the head of Cipinang penitentiary, said at a press conference to announce remissions for 2000 prisoners to mark Indonesia's Independence Day today.

The sentence reduction, handed to well-behaved prisoners annually on Independence Day, is likely to anger Australia, which lost 88 citizens in the 2002 blasts and had already raised concerns about the potential sentence cut. "Abu Bakar Bashir deserves a remission because he is behaving very well. All he does in prison is devote himself to religious service," Mr Sutardi said, adding that he expected Bashir to be free in April next year.

Bashir was eligible for a two-month sentence cut as part of the annual remissions, plus a further two months and 15 days for remissions granted every 10 years, he said. Canberra expressed disappointment at the initial length of the jail term handed to Bashir in March for his involvement in a criminal conspiracy that led to the October 2002 Bali bombings, in which 202 people, mostly tourists, were killed. He was cleared of more serious charges of planning terrorist attacks.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Monday that Canberra had been planning to ask Indonesia not to reduce the 66-year-old cleric's sentence."We wouldn't want to see his already rather short sentence reduced and our ambassador is taking this matter up with the Indonesians," Mr Downer said. Asked about Australia's objections, Mr Sutardi said: "We didn't consider that." "We are not aware of that and we are not subject to influence by other parties," he said.

Bashir is accused by some foreign governments of being the spiritual leader of the South-East Asian extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah, blamed for the Bali attack and a suicide bombing outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta last September that killed 11 people, as well as other attacks. Remissions have reportedly been proposed for 19 of 24 convicted Bali bombers along with about 53,000 other prisoners nationwide who will have their sentences cut as Indonesia celebrates its independence.

Three of the plotters on death row and two others jailed for life are not eligible. The United States has also criticised Indonesia over Bashir's sentence, which it charged was too lenient.



Posted in Politics @ 17 August 2005 07:08 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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