“Likely to anger the United States and its regional ally Australia.” Oh, hopefully more countries than that. “Indonesia overturns Bashir’s conviction,” by Niniek Karmini for Associated Press:
The Supreme Court ruling is likely to anger the United States and its regional ally Australia, both of which publicly accused the aging cleric of being a top leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaida-linked Southeast Asian terror group.
Bashir, 69, who was released from prison in June, has long claimed that the government in the world’s most populous Muslim nation succumbed to pressure from the West when it arrested him soon after the Bali attacks.
Bashir’s son, Abdurrahmin, said his father had received word of the verdict.
“Thank God the Supreme Court has finally revealed the final truth,” he said by telephone from Bashir’s hometown on Java island. “He is praying now to say thanks to God that his prayers have been accepted.”
Thursday’s ruling was in response to an appeal filed during Bashir’s imprisonment.
Supreme Court Chief Judge German Hoediarto told reporters he had decided to quash the conspiracy conviction following testimony from 30 witnesses, but gave no more details. A written verdict will likely be made public soon.
The 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, were the first in a string of attacks in Indonesia targeting Western interests, with 2003 and 2004 blasts at the Australian Embassy and the J.W. Marriott Hotel and triple suicide bombings on Bali last year.
Bashir has always denied any wrongdoing, but admits having known several Southeast Asian militants in the 1980s and 1990s who went to Afghanistan and trained there at al-Qaida-run camps.
Since his release, he has preached in towns across the country, espousing fiercely anti-American and anti-Jewish views and promoting his campaign to transform Indonesia’s secular state into an Islamic one.