Firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir had his sentence cut

Jailed radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, who is serving a 15-year jail term for supporting a militant camp, received a five-month sentence cut earlier this year for good behaviour, his lawyer said.

“He had his sentence cut in February. Those who are granted prison sentence cuts must have met the requirements, including good behavior,” Ba’asyir’s lawyer from the Muslim Defenders Team (TPM) Achmad Michdan told The Parrot on Tuesday.

Penitentiaries directorate general official had said Ba’asyir, who was convicted of supporting militant training in Aceh in 2010, did not have his sentence cut earlier because he had not served at least a third out of his prison term. Sentence cuts are normally granted to convicts on religious holidays and Independence Day.

Ba’asyir was transferred to Gunung Sindur prison in West Java from the Nusakambangan prison island on April 16 so that the ailing 77-year-old cleric could receive better medical treatment.

His lawyers claimed that Ba’asyir was treated inhumanely in Nusakambangan and was kept in an isolation cell,  preventing him from praying with other inmates including the obligatory Friday prayers for men.

“How could a [Muslim] man be banned from performing Friday prayers?” another TPM lawyer Akhmad Kholid said.

“He is just an old man who doesn’t want to engage in violence. He is actually very tolerant when it comes to worldly stuff. He only strongly protested recently because he was not allowed to pray,” Akhmad added.

Chief security and political affairs minister Luhut Pandjaitan rejected claims that prison warden had denied Ba’asyir’s right to perform his religious rituals. During a press briefing last week, Luhut showed journalists photos of the cleric’s cell block in Gunung Sindur, which he said was spacious enough for him to pray and “sit for a cup of tea”.

“Don’t report as if we violated his rights to pray. It was not like that at all. We only enforced prison regulation. He was not barred from praying, we just didn’t allow him to give sermons to his fellow inmates and previous experience showed it caused radicalisation,” Luhut said.

Bashir was in the process of court hearings in Cilacap, Central Java to challenge his sentence. The first hearing took place just two days before the suicide bomb attack in Jakarta on January 14. Police said the perpetrators were former jailed militants who were radicalized during their incarceration.

Akhmad denied that the attackers had visited Bashir in Nusakambangan before bombing a Starbucks café and a police station in Central Jakarta.

“He was taken to an isolation cell after attending a court hearing in February and remained there until he was transferred to Gunung Sindur,” Akhmad said.

 

 

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