12/22/2006, 00.00
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Supreme Court overturns Ba’asyir’s conviction

The Muslim clergyman was charged with involvement in terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2004. Indonesian police maintains he is guilty based on their evidence. Defence attorneys plan legal action to fully rehabilitate his reputation.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesia’s Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of Abu Bakar Ba’asyir of involvement in the terrorist attacks in Bali (2002) and against the Marriot Hotel in Jakarta (2004). However, the Indonesian Police (Polri) has strongly reacted against the decision; its spokesman, Inspector General Sisno Adiwinoto, said that there was “abundant evidence he was involved in those attacks. We have proof that shows his guilt.”

“The decision was made after hearing at least 30 witnesses who said that Ba’asyir was not involved in those deadly attacks”, said German Hoediarto, who chaired the supreme court hearings. The written ruling will be issued in the near future.

For Adiwinoto, the court “was unwise to clear [Ba’asyir] . . . but its decision was likely due to legal evidence that made our efforts in vain”. And yet “the Polri,” he added, “still considers him guilty. Its conviction is based on solid evidence that justified holding him for 2.5 years in jail.”

“It was foretold as God’s own will (to clear him),” Baasyir said upon hearing the Court’s decision, this according to Mahendradatta, one of the Muslim clergyman’s lawyers, who added that he would now seek full rehabilitation.

Among other things, it will be necessary to explain why Ba’asyir met convicted terrorists Amrozi and Mubarok before the Bali bombings. “The police are convinced that the meeting was planned to give Amrozi help in the attack,” Mahendradatta said, “when in fact it was casual”.

A bomb in a night club in Bali killed 202 people in 2002, mostly foreign tourists. The attack was the first major terrorist attack in Indonesia but was soon followed by others: against the Australian Embassy in 2003, the Marriot Hotel in Jakarta in 2004, and triple suicide attack in 2005 against targets frequented by Westerners, especially tourists.

Ba’asyir is an important figure in the Indonesian Mujahiddin Council, a radical Islamic group that wants to impose Sharia Law in the country.

The clergyman steadfastly denied any involvement in the attacks but did acknowledge that in the 80s and 90s he knew and met many Muslim militants who attended al-Qaeda “training camps” in Afghanistan.

Since his release in June, Ba’asyir has been involved in a intense anti-US and anti-Jewish campaign and has been promoting the idea of turning secular Indonesia into an Islamic state.

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