Kiwi welcomes Bashir's 15 years jail

A Kiwi survivor of the 2002 Bali bombings has welcomed the jailing of Abu Bakar Bashir, the man found to have masterminded the attack.

The former spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), the group responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings, was found guilty late yesterday of inciting terrorism.

He was sentenced to 15 years jail.

The 2002 bombings in or near nightclubs in the popular Kuta area of Bali killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Bashir was also found guilty of funding a terrorist cell discovered last year at a paramilitary camp in Aceh.

Indonesian prosecutors had demanded a life sentence in relation to a charge of financing the Aceh camp and cell.

However the panel of judges presiding over the case in the South Jakarta District Court instead found him guilty of a more serious offence of inciting terrorism.

The conviction for the more serious offence came despite the prosecution earlier in the trial effectively dropping it, along with one count of weapons trafficking, after saying they did not believe they could prove the charges.

Bashir showed little emotion as the verdict was read out despite the lengthy term.

If served in full it will likely see him spend the rest of his life in prison, effectively being a death sentence for the 72-year-old who is in poor health.

He immediately declared he would appeal.

"I reject this because it is cruel and disregards Islamic sharia. This ruling is by the friends of the devil and it is haram (forbidden under Islam) for me to accept it," he said.

Kiwi victim welcomes verdict

A New Zealand survivor of the Bali bombings says it's great Bashir has been brought to justice.

Amanda Stanaway and her husband were honeymooning in Bali and were in a nightclub when it was bombed.

"I'm definitely pleased that he's been made accountable for his actions, that you can't do that many different terrorist attacks on different people and get away with it," she told Newstalk ZB.

"But also there's a little bit of trepidation because when someone gets sentenced then there's the other side of the coin where other people get really angry and there's other bombings."

Ms Stanaway says the bombing was terrifying. Her husband got badly burnt and it took six hours to find him.

Judges' decision

Reading out the verdict, the chief judge said the evidence presented in the case had proved the defendant had "incited others" to commit acts of terrorism by persuading them to undertake military training at the Aceh camp.

"As well, he persuaded them to commit violence, which led to the deaths of policemen, and which created an atmosphere of terror ... especially for the people of Aceh in general."

He said it was clear Bashir had used the radical group, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), as a front to fund the Aceh cell, which it is understood was planning attacks on police and western targets.

A large cache of ammunition and weapons, including AK-47 rifles, was found when the paramilitary camp was raided by police in February last year.

The verdict was greeted with an angry response from hundreds of Bashir's supporters outside the court, who shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is great) as it was read out.

They were immediately flanked by hundreds of police, many heavily armed, and part of a contingent of more than 3000 that had been deployed to the court and surrounding precinct.

Bashir's lawyer, Wirawan Adnan, who later confirmed an appealed would be launched, said the defence team would argue that the prosecution had failed to prove their client had been personally involved in plotting a terrorist activity.

"The verdict said that because he is the head of JAT that he should be responsible for his people," he said outside the court.

"We believe he should not be held responsible for the actions of others. So our client should be free."

Reaction in Australia

The decision was greeted with relief in Australia.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard credited Indonesian authorities with a successful arrest and prosecution and said Australia's thoughts were with were those who had lost loved ones in terrorist attacks carried out by JI.

"Over the past decade, Indonesia has acted very strongly against terrorism," Ms Gillard said in a statement.

"Abu Bakar Bashir's arrest and successful prosecution were the result of excellent work by Indonesian authorities and full credit goes to them.

"Many Australians have lost loved ones in terrorist attacks conducted by members of Jemaah Islamiah and our thoughts are with them at this time."

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said more than 110 Australians had died as a result of terrorist attacks over the past ten years.

"The Australian government hopes this conviction brings some measure of justice to the families of the victims," he said.

However, the result was also greeted with a sense of caution, with Bashir having successfully appealed terrorism charges in the past.

He served almost 26 months for conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people including 88 Australians, before being freed in 2006 and subsequently cleared of any involvement.

He was also unsuccessfully charged with involvement in the bombings of churches across Indonesia in 2000 and the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003.

Bashir has maintained his innocence throughout the trial, which began almost five months ago, having claimed the charges against him were trumped up under pressure from Australia and the United States.

Opposition foreign spokeswoman Julie Bishop welcomed the conviction and congratulated Indonesia for its work, but said the sentence of 15 years will bring little comfort to families.

-AAP

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