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Indonesia defends JI leader's acquittal JAKARTA - The Indonesian supreme court's acquittal of militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged spiritual leader of terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, on charges of involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings should be respected, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Saturday. "Indonesia can understand all reactions regarding the supreme court's decision on Bashir," a statement said.

"Indonesia has full sovereignty over its domestic affairs and legal system. The decision has gone through a fair, transparent and democratic process. The Indonesian government urges others to respect the Indonesian supreme court decision," the statement said. Speaking at the Islamic school he founded in the city of Solo, Bashir praised Indonesia's supreme court as "honest and brave" after it cleared him of conspiracy charges.

He said he was considering suing the Indonesian state for jailing him on what he has called trumped-up charges. Bashir said that Thursday’s ruling was evidence that the West could not subjugate Indonesia. "I hope the West will open their eyes and if they remain adamant, there will be heavier blows. This is a blow and a warning for the West"

Bashir, 68, was first arrested one week after the Bali bombings on October 12, 2002. He went on trial in 2003, and owing to insufficient evidence proving that he was a leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, was sentenced to 18 months for immigration offences. Police rearrested Bashir in late April 2004, immediately after his release from jail, and charged him under Indonesia's new anti- terrorism law, passed in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings which left at least 202 people dead, mostly foreign tourists.

He was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment in March 2005 after the court found him guilty of planning the bombings. The ageing preacher walked free in June after completing a 26-month sentence. His original prison term was reduced due to time spent in detention and he received an additional reduction on the occasion of Indonesia's 60th independence anniversary in August 2005.

Many Australians, mostly families of the Bali bomb victims, have expressed their anger at the decision. Australian Prime Minister John Howard said while it is upsetting for the victims' families, he was powerless to help.



Posted in General @ 23 December 2006 12:19 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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