Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, an Indonesian cleric accused of being linked to the 2002 Bali bomb attacks, has been released from prison on Friday 8th January.
The release has caused both anger and sadness among the victims of the bomb attacks.
Ba’asyir, 82, is considered the spiritual leader of the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the network responsible for the 2002 Bali bomb attacks that killed more than 200 people, most of them foreign tourists.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Panel of Judges at the South Jakarta District Court in 2011 for raising funds for training for militant groups in Aceh province.
“The person concerned will be released on 8th January 2021 according to the expiration date of their sentenced period,” explained the Head of Public Relations and Protocol of the Directorate General of Corrections, Rika Aprianti, on Monday 4th January.
Ba’asyir received a reduction in his sentence which allows for him to leave prison sooner. Head of the West Java Ministry of Law and Human Rights Regional Office, Imam Suyudi, said the reductions included general, decade, special, Eid, and sick reductions.
“He was sentenced to 15 years, after receiving a remission of 55 months he served a prison term of more than nine years,” Imam explained.
Ba’asyir left Gunung Sindur Prison, Bogor Regency, West Java, on Friday at 5:21am. He was accompanied by his family and lawyer when he left prison.
A number of officers were seen carrying rifles while escorting the Ba’asyir family group to the main road. It is known that Ba’asyir had been placed in a special cell in block D of the Gunung Sindur terrorist prison.
Even though he will be completely free, Head of National Police Public Relations, Police Commissioner Ahmad Ramadhan, explained that Ba’asyir is still being monitored by the National Police’s intelligence team.
Ba’asyir had previously been jailed for the Bali night club bombing, but that sentence was dropped upon appeal. He has repeatedly denied involvement in the attack.
Ba’asyir’s lawyers have appealed for his release citing his age and risk of contracting COVID-19 in the notoriously overcrowded prison system. Meanwhile, Ba’asyir refused to renounce his views which were considered extreme in exchange for leniency.
Two years ago, plans to grant Ba’asyir an early humanitarian release sparked a violent backlash within Indonesia and in Australia.
Laczynski was drinking with his friends at the Sari Club and escaped death by rushing to leave the club that night before the explosion occurred. However, his five friends were among hundreds of people who died in the bomb blast.
“This is very painful for me. I want justice to be served,” Laczynski told AFP from Melbourne. “There are still people even next week having surgery for their burns; people still suffer. “
Several JI members involved in the attack were later executed or killed in confrontations with Indonesian authorities.
The 2002 bombings – and the subsequent attacks on the holiday island in 2005 – prompted Jakarta to strengthen cooperation with the United States and Australia in countering terrorism. The Al-Qaeda-linked JI was founded by a handful of Indonesian militants who were exiled in Malaysia in the 1980s and has grown to include cells throughout Southeast Asia.
Apart from the Bali bombings, the extremist group has also been blamed for the 2003 car bomb at the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta and the suicide car bomb the following year outside the Australian embassy.