Wed, 09 Mar 2005

From: Jawawa

Ba'asyir off lightly

Given Abu Bakar Ba'asyir's likely acquittal on appeal, the real surprise was not the terrorist group leader's conviction over involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings, or even the risible 30-months' jail sentence handed to him by a Jakarta court, frustratingly and infuriatingly inadequate as the punishment is. That seven charges against Ba'asyir -- six were found unproved -- even got to trial in the first place was a victory against the odds of prosecutorial will in a nation where judicial independence is in its infancy.

The Australian government has captured the people's sentiment and rightly expressed our communal indignation to Jakarta at the leniency of sentence for a man we hold as having at least inspired terrorist atrocities.

Ba'asyir's lawyers said his conviction amounted to a political compromise intended to satisfy countries like the US, which led the diplomatic condemnation of the sentence, without lighting the fuse of revolt in a divided Indonesia.

In a sense, that may be true. But a faulty conviction does not excuse Ba'asyir or his many followers. A terrorist is a terrorist, whether he or she details the schedule, makes the bomb or rouses followers to violence. Abu Bakar Ba'asyir may yet beat the conspiracy rap but he is forever marked by his evil. -- The Sydney Morning Herald