[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Indonesia cleric denies charges
Abu Bakar Bashir tells court that under Islamic law training fighters is acceptable but he denies any involvement in it.
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2011 06:07 GMT
Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir faces a maximum penalty of death if found guilty of supporting armed group  [EPA]

Indonesia's best known Islamic cleric has denied that he helped set up, fund and arm a training camp for fighters in the country's west.

Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of the al-Qaeda-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, appeared at a South Jakarta Court on Thursday.

The 72-year-old imam told judges that under Islamic law, the training camp in Ache province was acceptable.

However, he did not admit to being involved in it or funding it, saying that he was the victim of a US conspiracy.

Prosecutors say the training camp uncovered last year in Aceh had been planning Mumbai-style gun attacks on foreigners in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and the assassination of prominent figures such as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Outspoken defiance

Bashir, who faces a maximum penalty of death, was met by hundreds of supporters who packed the courtroom and gathered outside.

Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen. reporting from the court in Jakarta, said that the court was "the best podium Bashir could have wished for - with the judges, local and international media, and hundreds of his supporters".

"He read out a 90-page statement campaigning for an Islamic state in Indonesia, and defended the establishment of the military training camp in Aceh, saying that it was acceptable under Islamic law."

He said that the accusation against him "was an order from foreign countries, because the US and Australia do not want to see me free".

"The police want to make sure I stay in jail. They'd like to kill me, if they could."

Previous convictions

He called the government and security forces of Indonesia "infidels". The country has more Muslims than any other in the world.

"They should be imposing Islamic law,'' he said. "That's it ... no bargaining, no arguing."

Bashir is officially the caretaker of an Islamic boarding school on Java island, but has long been considered the spiritual leader of the shadowy Jemaah Islamiyah movement, which seeks to establish a Muslim caliphate across Southeast Asia.

He was found not guilty of terror offences in two previous trials that attempted to link him to the Bali bombings. This time, he faces charges related to mobilising others to commit "acts of terror."

Among other charges, the 93-page indictment against him says that he "planned and mobilised other people to break Indonesian law by providing firearms, munitions, explosive materials and other dangerous materials to be used to carry out an act of terrorism."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.