|Bashir co-founded Jemaah Islamiyah, which has been blamed for numerous bombings in Indonesia [EPA]|
A prominent Indonesian Muslim religious figure accused of setting up a “terror” training camp, has had his prison sentence reduced from 15 years to nine years by an appeals court.
The court reduced Abu Bakar Bashir’s prison sentence on Wednesday, though no reason was given for the decision.
“All I can say right now is that his sentence was reduced to nine years,” Ahmad Sobari, a court spokesman, told the Associated Press news agency.
“I do not know exactly what factors were taken into account in the judge’s decision.”
In March, a district court sentenced the 72-year-old Bashir to 15 years in prison for inciting terrorism, but his lawyers appealed.
Bashir’s lawyer, Mohammad Mahendradatta, said he was awaiting official notification of Bashir’s reduced sentence from the court. He stressed, however, that his client was innocent and should be freed.
Bashir co-founded the Jemaah Islamiyah network, which is blamed for some of Indonesia’s deadliest bombings.
Jemaah Islamiyah gained international attention in 2002, when it attacked two crowded nightclubs on the resort island of Bali.
Many of the 202 people killed were Australian tourists. Seven were Americans.
Bashir was sentenced earlier this year by a district court in Indonesia for inciting terrorism
Bashir was arrested almost immediately after the Bali blasts, but prosecutors were unable to prove his direct involvement.
Judges sentenced him to 18 months in prison on relatively minor charges of immigration violations.
Soon after his release, he was re-arrested and sentenced to 2 1/2 years, this time for inciting the twin nightclub attacks.
That charge was overturned on appeal and he was freed in 2006.
There have been several bombings since the Bali attack, but all have been less deadly, and the most recent was two years ago, something analysts attribute to a security crackdown that has resulted in hundreds of arrests and convictions.
Just as it appeared that the country’s “terror” threat was diminishing, authorities last year discovered the training camp in western Indonesia that Bashir is accused of establishing.
Captured fighters testified that he watched a video as they trained and received written reports assuring him that the $100,000 he had helped raised was being used for the struggle to build an Islamic state.
Judges said, however, they did not have enough evidence to prove Bashir knew the money was going to be used to buy guns, ammunition and equipment for training, settling just on incitement.
While Bashir claimed that all charges against him were fabricated, he also said that he approved of the camp’s aims.
Bashir was eventually found guilty and received a sentence of 15 years for the charge.