Asia-Pacific

Indonesia cuts jail term of cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir

Radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir talks to reporters from behind bars of a holding cell at a district court in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 9 May 2011
Ba'asyir was jailed in June for giving support to militants in Aceh province

An Indonesian court has cut the jail term being served by radical Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir from 15 years to nine.

He was jailed in June for backing an Islamist militant training camp.

A Jakarta High Court spokesman said the judge had verbally confirmed Ba'asyir's sentence had been cut.

Ba'asyir is seen as a spiritual leader of militant Islam in Indonesia but has always denied involvement in militant activities.

In March, the preacher was convicted of giving support to militants in Aceh province who were plotting to impose Sharia law in Indonesia through a campaign of violence and murder. He later received a 15-year term.

His lawyers appealed against the sentence, reports said, and on Wednesday said they were still awaiting official notification of the sentence reduction from the High Court.

Ba'asyir's lawyer Mohammad Assegaf told AFP news agency he was confident his client would eventually be cleared and released from prison.

"We're very optimistic that the Supreme Court will find him not guilty [of] all terrorism charges. It has happened before," he said.

Most analysts agree that Ba'asyir has been the spiritual leader of the military jihadi network Jemaah Islamiah for a number of years.

But he was cleared of involvement with the group after a trial in 2003.

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