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Indonesia court reduces jail term for radical cleric

An Indonesian court announced Wednesday that it would reduce the 15-year prison sentence being served by a radical Indonesian cleric. A spokesman for the Jakarta High Court confirmed without elaboration that the chief judge reduced the jail term to nine years. Regarded as a spiritual leader of militant Islam in Indonesia, 73-year-old cleric Abu Bakar Bashir [JURIST news archive] is a vocal advocate of violent jihad and was jailed in June for backing a terrorist training camp in the Indonesian province of Aceh. The training camp prepared Islamic radicals to carry out attacks in Jakarta and was allegedly planning attacks modeled after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks [JURIST news archive] and targeting high-profile members of the Indonesian government. Bashir was also accused of providing more than $62,000 to help fund the camp. The cleric was convicted of inciting terrorism in connection with the terrorist training camp in May after having pleaded not guilty [JURIST reports] the month before. He was not convicted of funding terrorist activities because there was not enough evidence to prove Bashir's money contributed to purchasing guns for use at the training camp. Bashir's lawyers have appealed the case to the Indonesian Supreme Court and have stated they are confident Bashir will eventually be cleared of terrorism charges and released from prison altogether.

Bashir's trial began in February [JURIST report] in the District Court of South Jakarta. He was suspected of links to al Qaeda [CFR backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) [CFR backgrounder], a terrorist group with links to al Qaeda that has been implicated in a number of attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing [JURIST news archive] that left more than 200 people dead. In 2006, the Indonesian Supreme Court overturned [JURIST report] Bashir's conviction on conspiracy charges connecting him with the bombings. He was released from prison [JURIST report] earlier in 2006 after spending 26 months in jail on different charges related to the bombings.

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