Indonesia Reinstates Militant’s Prison Sentence

Posted February 27th, 2012 at 9:45 am (UTC-5)
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Indonesia's Supreme Court has reinstated the 15-year prison sentence for a radical Muslim preacher linked to the deadly 2002 Bali bombings and convicted of setting up a terrorist training camp in western Indonesia.

A court spokesman said Monday the court overturned a lower court ruling that last year reduced Abu Bakar Bashir's prison term to nine years. Bashir is the reputed spiritual leader of al-Qaida linked militants in the Southeast Asian nation.

The 74-year-old Bashir was found guilty in June 2011 of helping to fund and organize a terror training camp in remote Aceh province. Documents found by police at the site show the group was plotting to assassinate President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and attack Western targets in Jakarta.

The United States last week officially named another militant organization founded by Bashir, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, as a terrorist organization.

Bashir denies financing terrorist activity, but his fiery preaching has long-inspired the nation's most radical Islamist groups, including Jemaah Islamiyah — the organization blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

He said last year that his latest trial showed Indonesian authorities had sought to demonize Islam. He also claimed the charges of organizing terrorist training activities were fabricated by the United States and Australia to silence his preaching.

Bashir spent more than two years in prison last decade on charges related to the Bali attacks, before that conviction was overturned in 2006.