Indonesian Cleric Bashir gets October date for Terrorism Trial

Indonesian Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir will go on trial on October 28 over a deadly hotel bombing and could face the death penalty if convicted on terrorism charges, a court official said Monday. Yunda Handi, a clerk at South Jakarta district court, said the long-awaited trial would be held in a special court convened in a building capable of accommodating security personnel, press and Bashir’s supporters. “His trial will open on Thursday, October 28, at the auditorium of the agriculture ministry,” said Handi. Bashir, 66, has been accused of heading the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror group and of involvement in the suicide bombing of Jakarta’s US-franchise Marriott hotel that killed 12 people on August 5, 2003. He will also face charges related to the Bali bombings of October 2002 in which 202 people, including 88 Australians were killed. The elderly cleric has denied any role in the bombings and rejected claims he is associated with Jemaah Islamiyah, denying the group’s existence. The October 28 date will be the latest stage in a marathon legal journey for Bashir, who was arrested a week after the Bali bombings and convicted last year of ties to the terror group. He was later cleared of this on appeal but remained in jail on immigration charges until April this year. On his release he was immediately rearrested by police who said they had fresh evidence linking him with the Bali and other attacks. But their efforts to charge him over Bali using an anti-terror law were thwarted when Indonesia’s top court threw out the retroactive use of the legislation. The law was introduced a week after the Bali attack. Instead police have focused on the Marriott bombing to secure terror charges, indicting him under another law for the Bali nightclub blasts. Efforts to bring the firebrand cleric to justice have won praise from Australia.Full Story

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