Jakarta: Abu Bakar Baasyir gets 15 years. He reacts"Verdict contrary to Shariah"
by Mathias Hariyadi
The judges condemned him for having financed a terrorist training centre. The prosecutor had requested life imprisonment. For the extremist leader it is an " unacceptable verdict," because it is against "Islamic law". It was a centre for the "deepening of faith." Tight security for fear of attacks
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - "This verdict is unacceptable, that's why I strongly oppose the ruling." These are the first words of the Indonesian Islamic leader Abu Bakar Baasyir, 72, after being sentenced to 15 years in prison, imposed this morning by the judges of the District Court of South Jakarta. He added that he was "cornered and criminalized" for actions that "I never committed" and warned: "This verdict is contrary to Sharia - Islamic law - and I can not accept it because to me it is against the law".

This morning in Indonesia the trial of the controversial Islamic leader, accused of having provided funds to terrorist groups in Aceh, linked to al-Qaeda ended. He has always pleaded not guilty and accused the United States and its allies of using him as a scapegoat. In the past, Bashir has already been sentenced to 2 years and 6 months for the Bali bombings, which in 2002 killed at least 202 foreign tourists and injured hundreds of people. He served 26 months in prison before leaving on good behaviour.

Thousands of Bashir supporters were expected to turn up for the sentencing, especially from Surak, Central Java, where the pesantren (Islamic educational institute) run by Bashir is located. The trial in court took place under tight security for fear of bombings. Abu Bakar Baasyir remained cold and distant, but at the same time staunchly defended his ideas on the Shariah. He rejected the sentence imposed by the court to 15 years imprisonment.

The court was presided over by Chief Justice Herry Swantoro, members of civil society and movements against violence, together with local journalists and international media attended the trial.

The court imposed a far more lenient sentence than the request for life imprisonment put forward by the prosecutor during the final indictment. However, the Islamic leader's lawyers confirmed that they will be appealing against the sentence. Among the most serious criminal charges, are those that claim Baasyir led and financed a training centre for fundamentalists in Aceh province.

Baasyir says that the center is only a place to "deepen the practice of faith," renamed according to Islamic terminology i’dad o ibadah. And, in his opinion, "this is not an act of terrorism". For the judges, however, he collected at least 1.9 billion Indonesian rupiahs (about 220 thousand dollars) to finance the terrorist group Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid (Jat). Several members of Islamic fundamentalist groups passed through the centre, including Dulmatin - alias Yahyah Ibrahim or Joko Pitono - who was killed in a raid of the Indonesian anti-terrorist squad in March 2010 (see AsiaNews, 09/03/2010 Three die in anti-terror raid, one masterminded Bali massacre).

Finally, the court ruled that the plan to create a paramilitary training center for young terrorists, involved high ranking members of Jat, the movement of Baasyir, including the likes of Lutfi Haidaroh, alias Ubaid or Abu Tholut, and Muzayyin, aka Mustaqim.