|Thursday, 26 August 2004|
Indonesian cleric Bashir steps closer to charges
JAKARTA, Wednesday (Reuters)
Militant Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, accused of leading the al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiah militant group, should face formal charges soon after police handed him over to prosecutors on Wednesday.
The charges would be a key step forward in Indonesia's efforts to bring to trial the man authorities believe inspired the militants who bombed nightclubs on the island of Bali in 2002 and Jakarta's J.W. Marriott Hotel last year.
The handover became possible after prosecutors approved a police dossier setting out the case against the 66-year old preacher.
The contents of the dossier have not been made public, but police have said it refers to the Marriott bombing and Bashir's leadership of Jemaah Islamiah.
However, it did not incriminate him in the October 2002 Bali attacks although a prosecutor said there was a link to that case.
"He co-founded Jemaah Islamiah and oversaw the training at camp Hudaibiyah. Graduates from that training centre eventually conducted a series of bombings, including the Marriott blast," said Haryono, a spokesman at the Jakarta prosecutors' office, referring to a JI military camp in the southern Philippines.
"The alumni also stored explosives in Semarang and some of them were behind the Bali bombings. But we will not use Law No. 16," he said. Law No. 16/2003 allowed the retroactive application of a tough anti-terror law adopted after the bombings of two bars at Bali's famed Kuta beach strip which killed 202 people.
In July, Indonesia's constitutional court found it unconstitutional. A suicide bomber blew up a van packed with explosives outside the Marriott a year ago, killing 12 people.
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