Tag: paramilitary

Government to move Abu Bakar Bashir to a Central Java prison

The Indonesian government will move ailing radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir to a prison near his hometown in Solo, Central Java for humanitarian reason.

“[The decision] is final. We’ll just need to move him to Central Java,” chief security minister Wiranto told journalists on Wednesday.

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On Tuesday, Wiranto said the government has made the decision by taking into account the firebrand cleric’s old age and poor health without compromising the legal and security aspects. He also said that Bashir will have access to medical treatment and if necessary, the government will take him to the hospital “using a helicopter”.

Bashir will be moved from his isolation cell in Gunung Sindur prison in Bogor, West Java to a prison near Klaten in Central Java where  he can be close to his family.

Earlier in the week, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights said Bashir is ineligible for house arrest. It was one of the options the government said it was considering as leniency to the ailing cleric.

“House arrest is only available for a defendant who is standing trial, while Bashir is no longer a defendant. He is a prisoner, convicted to serve time in prison,” Ade Kusmanto, a spokesman for the ministry’s Directorate General of Correction said.

Last week, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu told journalists at the state palace that house arrest for the cleric is very likely, as the government is weighing up which form of clemency it could give to Bashir. The cleric suffers from pooling of blood on his legs, a condition which requires him to undergo regular medical check-ups.

On Mar. 1, Bashir was taken to a hospital in Jakarta for treatment which his lawyer, Achmad Michdan, said had been scheduled for Nov. 2017. He is scheduled for another check up on Thursday.

President Joko Widodo said the government gave permission for Bashir to go to the hospital on humanitarian grounds.

Kusmanto said the cleric can ask the president for clemency, given that he is in poor health and will become an octogenarian this year. Another possibility is to demand parole, for which he will be eligible in June 2019 when he will have served two-thirds of his 15-year prison sentence.

Michdan said his client rules out both the options since applying for either one would mean that Bashir pleads guilty to the charges against him.

Bashir was convicted in 2011 for supporting paramilitary training in Aceh, and the firebrand cleric is described as the ideological icon of Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), including those who carried out bomb attacks in Bali in 2003.

“Bashir believes he is innocent because he was merely observing his faith as a Muslim. He was collecting money to fund training and travel for those who wanted to go as mujahideen to Palestine. He wasn’t rebelling against the country,” Michdan said.

Michdan said that it should be possible for the government to “relocate the place” where Bashir serves his sentence from Gunung Sindur prison to his house in Solo, Central Java.

He cited examples of jailed former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is serving his two-year sentence for blasphemy at a special police detention instead of a correctional facility, and East Timor resistance fighter Xanana Gusmao who had been imprisoned in Jakarta when he was fighting for East Timor’s independence from Indonesia. He was then confined to a house in Central Jakarta in 1999.

Terrorism analyst Adhe Bakti said even though house arrest is not regulated in the Criminal Procedures Code, Gusmao’s case was laden with political context at that time when East Timor was going for a referendum in which they voted for independence from Indonesia on Aug. 30, 1999.

“But the government could make a breakthrough by giving Bashir leniency to serve the rest of his sentence on house isolation based on humanitarian grounds. At least it would project a positive image of the government before the Islamists,” Bakti said.

Bakti warned that isolation remains necessary given Bashir’s revered position among militants.

“Even though he is no longer affiliated with ISIS, he still very much identified with radical teaching,” Bakti said.

This story has been updated from its original version in Arab News

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.