The Indonesian government is considering releasing radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir–described by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s office on Saturday as the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings–into house arrest due to his ailing health.
Bashir was acquitted of masterminding the Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreigners including 88 Australians in 2002 after prosecutors were unable to prove the allegations against him. He was instead found guilty of immigration violations and sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment. In October 2004, he was arrested again by Indonesian authorities and charged for his involvement in a bomb attack on the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta which killed 14 people.
Bashir, 80, was recently treated for chronic venous insufficiency (pooling of blood in the legs)–a common condition for the older generation–which has prompted calls for him to be released from prison and placed under house arrest. Many, however, worry about the influence such a dangerous man still has in the community after a number of his supporters have put forward calls for him to be released entirely due to his age and health.
Indonesian media reports that Bashir’s son sent a letter to Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu last Thursday, concerned about his father’s health– asking for his father to placed under house arrest at his home in Solo, Central Java.
According to The Guardian, the Indonesian government’s top security minister, said on Friday, that a selection of security ministers and police officers will make a recommendation on Abu Bakar Bashir’s treatment to Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo very soon.
When Bashir was released in 2006 he pledged to impose Islamic sharia law on Indonesia and even called on Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, to convert to Islam in order to save himself from hell and receive God’s forgiveness. At the time, Howard said Australians would be “extremely disappointed, even distressed” at the news of his release.
Bashir is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for supporting a military-style training camp for Islamic militants.
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