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Bashir supporters reject Jakarta court's 15-year sentence on terror charges

Reuters/Beawiharta

Supporters of radical Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir were furious Thursday after a court jailed their leader to 15 years in jail for funding a terror cell. Bashir himself declared that Islam forbade him to accept the verdict.

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"This is haram [forbidden in Islam]. I reject this because it is cruel and disregards Islamic sharia law. This ruling is by the friends of the devil and it is haram for me to accept it," he said in response to judge Herri Swantoro, who read out the at the end of his four-month trial.

Members of Bashir’s Jamaat Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) called the trial “a joke” and accused the judges of serving the interests of the current political power.

And Bashir’s lawyer, Achmad Michdan, claimed the court had ignored the testimony of one witness, Khaerul Gaszali, which, he said, showed that witnesses testifying against Bashir had been “pressured and received violent treatment”.

Bashir was found guilty of channelling about 35,000 euros to a cell conducting military-style training in Aceh province. The group, which was discovered in February last year, was planning assassinations and Mumbai-style attacks, according to police.

Several JAT members who had been arrested implicated their leader in the Aceh cell, which was operated by Dulmatin, killed by police last year.

Bashir denied the charges, while calling on his followers to fight the West and Indonesia’s secular government.

Charges for providing illegal weapons, which carries the death penalty, were dropped and he was acquitted of possessing illegal weapons.

Police tightened security at shopping centres in Jakarta following threats of bomb attacks if Bashir was convicted.

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