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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 06:06 GMT 07:06 UK
Indonesian cleric faces Bali charge
Abu Bakar Ba'asyir is being escorted from prison after being re-arrested on Friday
Police say they have new evidence against Ba'asyir
Indonesian police have rearrested militant cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir on suspicion of terrorism, immediately after his release from a Jakarta jail.

Police said they had new evidence to show he was a senior leader of militant group Jemaah Islamiah (JI), blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings.

Ba'asyir, who has served 18 months for immigration offences, denies being the group's spiritual leader.

Hundreds of his supporters clashed with police as he was detained.

Police were stoned and taunted with cries of "If you dare, arrest us" and chants of "Allahu Akbar!" (God is greatest).

Ba'asyir's supporter throws a rock during a riot outside the prison where the cleric was held
Ba'asyir's supporters hurled rocks and stones at police

A number of people were injured and several cars smashed during the violence.

Ba'asyir's lawyers described the police action as "an extraordinary form of illegal detention".

"We will challenge this in court. This is not an arrest, this is kidnapping," one of Ba'asyir's lawyers, Achmad Khalid, was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Ba'asyir's supporters had vowed to take the cleric back to the Islamic boarding school he runs in Solo in central Java, where several of those behind the 2002 Bali bombings studied.

'Strong evidence'

Witnesses said that police took Ba'asyir from his cell at Salemba prison early on Friday morning and rushed him into a waiting vehicle to be taken to the police headquarters in the Indonesian capital.

Taught at Islamic school
Arrested a week after the Oct 2002 Bali bombings
Sept 2003 - found guilty of sedition and immigration offences
But acquitted of being spiritual leader of JI
Dec 2003 - Sedition charge quashed on appeal
April 2004 - Rearrested and faces terrorism charges

Ba'asyir smiled and waved at waiting reporters, saying: "The will of God must be carried out."

Ansyaad Mbai, the top anti-terror official at Indonesia's security ministry, said police had enough evidence to prove Ba'asyir was a senior leader of JI, the group blamed for the Bali attack which killed 202 people.

"Abu Bakar Ba'asyir will be charged with all bombings committed by Jemaah Islamiah because he is the leader of the group," he said.

"Many witnesses have said the bombings were approved by him. We have a strong case and we have strong evidence."

The proof, police said, included documents uncovered during investigations into the activities of Islamic militants in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Police also said they had evidence that Ba'asyir oversaw the graduation ceremonies of militants in the Philippines and appointed one of JI's senior leaders.

Police attempted to question Ba'asyir on Wednesday - two days before his release - but he refused to cooperate.

'Fight back'

Ba'asyir has not been previously charged in connection with the Bali attacks, but he did stand trial accused of plotting to overthrow the government as the alleged spiritual leader of JI.

He was cleared of treason in September 2003, but was instead jailed for four years for subversion and immigration offences. The subversion charge was later overturned on appeal.

But since he was last in court a new law has come into force which sets a lower burden of proof in cases involving terrorism.

The BBC's Rachel Harvey reports from Jakarta
"The question now is whether the police have enough concrete evidence to make the charges stick"

Profile: Abu Bakar Ba'asyir
09 Mar 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Spotlight on Indonesia's Islamic schools
03 Sep 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Jemaah Islamiah still a threat
15 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia's Muslim militants
08 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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