Indonesian Cleric Sentenced to 15 Years in Terror Trial

Posted June 16th, 2011 at 3:10 am (UTC-5)
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A court sentenced Indonesian radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir on Thursday to 15 years in prison for his role in setting up and financing a terrorist training camp.

The white-robed preacher showed little reaction to the sentence, which came at the end of a six-month trial.

Around 3,000 Indonesian security forces were on guard around the Jakarta courthouse for the verdict and sentencing, which took several hours to read. Hundreds of Bashir's supporters packed the courtroom and watched outside on television monitors.

Bashir said as he was brought to the courtroom earlier Thursday that the trial shows Indonesian authorities have made an enemy of Islam. He also repeated his claim that the charges against him were fabricated by the United States and Australia to silence his preaching.

Prosecutors had demanded a life sentence for Bashir, who was convicted of helping to fund and organize a terrorist training camp discovered last year in remote Aceh province. Documents found at the camp indicate the group was plotting to assassinate President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and attack Western targets in the capital.

The cleric denies that he financed terrorist activity, but his fiery preaching has long inspired the nation's most radical Islamists. He is considered the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, which is blamed for terrorist attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

Bashir spent more than two years in prison on charges related to the Bali attacks before his conviction was overturned.