Abu Bakar Bashir: Bali bombing ‘mastermind’ to be released
Cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has served nine years of a 15-year jail sentence after he was convicted of setting up a paramilitary training camp that had ties to those responsible for the devastating attack on the Sari Nightclub, in the tourist district of Kuta, on October 12, 2002.
The three simultaneous bombings killed 202 people, including 88 AustraliansAbu Bakar Bashir was sentenced to 15 years jail for operating the paramiltiary camp those responsible for the Bali bombings trained at. (9News)
The announcement of Abu Bakar Bashir’s imminent release came during campaigning for a presidential election due in April in which opponents of President Joko Widodo have tried to discredit him as insufficiently Islamic.
“I have considered this decision for a long time, involving the National Police chief and legal experts,” Widodo told reporters.
“This release was decided because of humanitarian considerations and also related to his health care.”
Bashir’s lawyer, Muhammad Mahendradatta, said the cleric is expected to be released in the coming days.The attack on in the tourist district of Kuta killed 202 people including 88 Australians.
“We haven’t had the exact date of his release, but because Bashir badly needs serious health care the release will be carried out no later than next week,” he said.
Mahendradatta said he wanted Bashir’s release to be without any conditions, enabling him to meet supporters and give sermons.
However, another Bashir lawyer who is also an adviser to Widodo, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, told Indonesian TV that the cleric accepted conditions and would do nothing except rest and be close to his family.
Widodo said Mahendra was among the legal experts he sought advice from.
Indonesian authorities identified terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah as the ones responsible for the attack and a number of people including Bashir, who was accused of being the mastermind, were jailed.
However, the 80-year-old only spent two years behind bars after his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2006.
In 2011, the spiritual leader was again jailed after it was proven that he was behind the facility those responsible trained at.
While in jail, Bashir pledged allegiance to Islamic State as a number of the other behind the attack were executed.
In 2018, former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that Australia expected justice to be served to “the full extent of Indonesian law”.
“Abu Bakar Bashir should never be allowed to incite others to carry out future attacks against innocent civilians,” it also said.
Bashir is expected to be released in the coming days.
“Stunned that he is about to be released,” said Jan Laczynski, an Australian who lost five friends in the bombing of the Sari Club in Bali and narrowly avoided being at the venue himself.
“Truly devastating news as effectively he gets on with his life whilst everyone else suffers from seeing him walk out of jail,” he said.
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