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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 11:24 GMT
Cleric jailed over Bali bombings
Abu Bakar Ba'asyir - 3/3/05
Ba'asyir said the sentence against him was unjust
An Indonesian court has found the radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir guilty of conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bombings, in which 202 people died.

But he was cleared of more serious charges over a bomb attack on the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta in 2003.

Ba'asyir, who was jailed for two-and-a-half years, had denied the charges and is expected to appeal.

Australia, which lost 88 people in the Bali attacks, said the relatively lenient sentence was "disappointing".

"We are disappointed with the length of the sentence," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told the BBC.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Jakarta also expressed disappointment at the sentence "given the gravity of the charges on which he was convicted".

At the end of the court case, a statement read out by the five judges said Ba'asyir had not been directly involved in carrying out the Bali blasts, but had given his approval for the attacks.

Ba'asyir addressed the court after his sentence was delivered, saying: "I don't accept this verdict. This is not justice. God protect us from evil and its allies. Please, either open their hearts or destroy them."

He reportedly smiled broadly as he was led out of court, while his supporters climbed onto chairs with chants of "God is greatest".

The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Jakarta says it was always going to be a difficult and complex case for the prosecution to prove.

Their case was undermined when witnesses gave contradictory testimony, and a former US State Department interpreter gave evidence that appeared to back up the defence's claims that the trial was a result of US pressure.

Cheers

Ba'asyir supporters - 3/3/05
The cleric's supporters say he is being persecuted to please the US

Our correspondent says the atmosphere in the court swung from one extreme to another as the verdict was read out.

The announcement that Ba'asyir would not be convicted of the Marriott hotel attack - which killed 12 people, including a suicide bomber - was greeted with cheers by his supporters.

But they protested as he was found guilty of the Bali bombings.

The cleric was convicted over the Bali bombings under ordinary criminal legislation, rather than the harsher anti-terror laws, which were only brought in after the 2002 attacks.

A statement by the court said Ba'asyir was aware of the conspiracy behind the Bali bombings.

"The defendant knew that the perpetrators of the bombing were people who have been trained in bomb-making in Pakistan and Afghanistan... the conditions of evil conspiracy have been met," the statement said.

'Al-Qaeda ties'

Prosecutors who accused Ba'asyir of inspiring both the Bali and Marriott attacks had pushed for a jail sentence of eight years.

HAVE YOUR SAY
I wonder if the families of the dead and badly injured think that this is justice
Trudy Segal, Ascot, Berkshire

He has previously been tried on charges of leading the regional militant group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) - but was cleared because of a lack of evidence.

He was, however, jailed for immigration violations.

Police rearrested him in April 2004, as soon as he left prison, citing new evidence linking him to JI.

The US has alleged JI has ties to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How Ba'asyir's supporters reacted to the verdict




SEE ALSO:
Verdict leaves no-one satisfied
03 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Abu Bakar Ba'asyir
03 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Abu Bakar Ba'asyir's legal saga
03 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Jail demand for Indonesia cleric
08 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Jemaah Islamiah still a threat
13 Sep 04 |  Asia-Pacific
The Bali bombing plot
02 Oct 03 |  Asia-Pacific
The Bali bombing suspects
24 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific


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