Tue, 08 Mar 2005


RI asked to appeal Ba'asyir sentence

AUSTRALIA: Australia is urging Indonesian prosecutors to appeal to a high court in Jakarta to lengthen the 2 1/2-year prison sentence given to the alleged spiritual leader of an al-Qaeda- linked terror group, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told parliament on Monday.

An Indonesian court last week convicted Abu Bakar Ba'asyir of criminal conspiracy in the Bali bombings in 2002 that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

The U.S. and Australian governments contend that Ba'asyir is the spiritual leader of Jamaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaeda-linked group blamed for the Bali attack and for a series of terror plots elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

"On the day the sentence was handed down, I instructed our ambassador to make contact with Indonesian authorities and to let it be known that we regarded that sentence as too short and hope that the prosecution may consider lodging an appeal so that the sentence ... can be lengthened," Downer told parliament.

Indonesian prosecutors have said they're considering an appeal, but no decision has yet been taken.

"This is an independent legal system and we respect the independence of the Indonesian courts and so we hope that the prosecution will consider appealing to a higher court," Downer said. --AP