September 06, 2004

Abu Bakar Ba'asyir Indictment Sparks Riots in Indonesia

Religious right or Muslims, it's all the same. You remember the great Oklahoma City Riots of '96 when Christans in that city rampaged the streets over the Tim McVeigh indictment, right? Read the whole story. Notice that one rioter yelled "You are American puppets" at the police. Abu Bakar Ba'asyir has been accused of involvement in the Bali nightclub bombing which killed 202, including 88 Australians. Jakarta Post:

Supporters of terror suspect Abu Bakar Ba'asyir fought a running battle with police officers and hurled shoes and other debris inside a courtroom, shortly after a judge dismissed on Monday the lawsuit against the arrest of the elderly cleric.

Judge Syamsul Ali announced at the South Jakarta District Court that police had valid grounds to detain Ba'asyir on terror charges.

The decision paved the way for prosecutors to continue holding him in custody to face trial, and for police to go ahead with arresting other terror suspects despite mounting protests from Islamic hardliners.

Immediately after hearing the verdict against the pre-trial suit filed by Ba'asyir's lawyers against police, one of his supporters threw his sandal at Syamsul, and security officers escorted him outside of the courtroom.

Other supporters, mostly activists from the Ba'asyir-led Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI), then began hurling all manner of footwear at a lawyer representing the police, while yelling that the judge was a puppet of the United States and made a decision based on what the superpower country wanted.

"Ustadz (teacher) Ba'asyir is not guilty. Allahu Akbar (God is great). You are all American puppets. You will receive punishment someday," one angry young man shouted.

Several officers, led by Pasar Minggu Police chief Comr. Didi S., rushed into the courtroom to try to help calm down the cleric's angry supporters.

But one of them instead struck Didi in the face. Another police officer, who tried to defend Didi, was also beaten by the mob.

The brawl eventually cooled down after more police officers arrived, while several of the apparent leaders of the group also helped calm down the crowd, who continued jeering the judge and police over the verdict.

Ba'asyir's lawyer Acmad Michdan also slammed the ruling, saying it showed the judge did not have the courage to make a ruling based on truth.

"Based on the Criminal Code, Ba'asyir must be released after the Constitutional Court struck down the articles permitting the retroactive application of the antiterror law," he claimed.

The Constitutional Court ruled on July 23 that the retroactive articles in Law No. 16/2003 on terrorism (passed a few months after the Bali bombings) were unconstitutional, even though the law itself remains in force.

Following the annulment, the team of lawyers for Ba'asyir filed a pre-trial suit with the district court to challenge the police arrest of their client on charges of involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed over 200 people.

However, according to Ba'syir's case file submitted to the Attorney General's Office, the police dropped the charge regarding the Bali bombings and instead will use the Criminal Code for that count.

The case file still has a charge against Ba'asyir under the antiterror law for playing a role in the 2003 bombing of the Marriott Hotel, Jakarta, which took place after Law No. 16/2003 was enacted.

Commenting on Ba'asyir's verdict, a legal expert from the University of Indonesia, Rudy Satrio, said the court decision would encourage the police to continue making arrests of Muslim activists suspected of terror, despite little solid evidence.

Some 150 activists have been arrested by police with alleged links to terrorism since the Bali terror attack, according to Muslim lawyers.

They Muslim lawyers demanded an end to such arrests, which they said were made "arbitrarily and unlawfully".

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 05:04 PM | Comments |