Terror convict Abu Bakar Ba'asyir launches attempt to win early release

Terror convict Abu Bakar Ba'asyir launches attempt to win early release
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Terror convict Abu Bakar Ba'asyir launched his legal attempt on Tuesday to win an early release from his 15-year prison sentence.

Ba'asyir, known as the spiritual leader of extremist group Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), filed for a case review at the South Jakarta District Court on Tuesday following the Supreme Court's decision to reject a 2011 Jakarta High Court decision to reduce Ba'asyir's original sentence from 15 years to nine years.

The 15-year sentence was still less than the life sentence demanded by prosecutors at the time.

One of Ba'asyir's lawyers, Achmad Michdan, said on Tuesday that there was no new evidence that proved he was responsible for running a terrorist training camp in Aceh.

Michdan said that the only argument presented by Ba'asyir was that he had received the longest prison sentence among his fellow defendants, although they were all charged with the same crime.

"Our client was eventually charged with a crime that was not as described in the [previous] hearings. During the hearings, he was not described as the mastermind [of the training camps] but he was given the heaviest sentence during the final hearing despite the fact that there were dozens of people involved in the case," he said at the South Jakarta District Court.

Not only was Ba'asyir charged with being the mastermind behind the training camps, along with another JAT member Dulmatin, he was also accused of collecting Rp 250 million (US$18,200 or S$25,800) worth of funds for the training activities.

Michdan said that there was no proof that Ba'asyir had collected the funds to pay for the training camps.

"Even if the funding for terrorist activity did come from him, it was used without his knowledge. The funds were also not that much, certainly not as much as the media has described to the public. It is as if the ustadz Ba'asyir has donated Rp 2 billion (S$206,100)," he said.

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