Indonesia court orders militant Bashir to serve 15 years

JAKARTA, Feb 27, 2012 (AFP) - Indonesia's top court on Monday upheld a 15-year jail term against Islamist militant Abu Bakar Bashir for terrorist acts, reversing an earlier decision to slash the sentence to nine years.

"Abu Bakar Bashir is proven to be guilty officially and convincingly of committing terrorist acts," the Supreme Court said in a ruling.

"The defendant is sentenced to 15 years in prison," said court spokesman Ridwan Mansyur.

Bashir is regarded as a spiritual leader of militant Islam in Indonesia and is an outspoken supporter of Al-Qaeda-style jihad, but the 73-year-old has always denied being a terrorist.

In June last year a lower court sentenced him to 15 years in jail, but upon appeal the High Court slashed it to nine, citing lack of evidence and old age.

Monday's Supreme Court ruling is final.

Bashir was the alleged founder and chief ideologue of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), responsible for a string of attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

The United States on Thursday officially labelled the Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid, founded by Bashir in 2008, a foreign terrorist organisation, linking it to several attacks in Indonesia.

The State Department accuses the group of being behind a church bombing in Java last September, deadly attacks on Indonesian policemen and bank robberies aimed at raising money for weapons and bomb materials.