Indonesia to free cleric linked to Bali bombing

JAKARTA (AFP): A cleric linked to the Bali bombings is to be freed from prison Friday, stirring grief and anger among victims nearly 20 years after Indonesia’s worst terror attack. 

Abu Bakar Bashir, 82, is considered the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a religious group linked to the 2002 Bali terror attack that killed more than 200 people, most of them foreign tourists. He is scheduled to leave a prison south of the capital Jakarta, after completing a jail term for helping fund militant training in Aceh province. 

Originally sentenced to 15 years in 2011, the firebrand preacher’s term was later cut due to regular sentence reductions handed to most prisoners in Indonesia. 

Bashir had been previously jailed over the Bali nightclub bombings, but that conviction was quashed on appeal.

He has repeatedly denied involvement in the attacks.  Bashir’s lawyers had appealed for his release citing his age and risk of contracting Covid-19 in the Southeast Asian nation’s overcrowded prison system. 

Bashir has refused to renounce his views in exchange for leniency.