Terrorism trial of radical cleric resumes in Jakarta
The radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir appeared in a Jakarta court Monday for the resumption of his trial in which he is accused of funding a terrorist organisation based in Aceh. He has dismissed the allegations, claiming there is a conspiracy against him.
Prosecutors say Bashir, who is alleged to be the founder of Jamaah Islamiya, a regional terrorist organisation, raised more than 140,000 dollars (103,400 euros) to found a new group called Al Qaeda in Aceh.
Police say the group, which was discovered last February in Aceh province, was training small squads of suicide gunmen to target Westerners and political leaders in Indonesia in Mumbai-style attacks.
After hearing the judge read out the charges against him, Bashir denied the allegations.
"I understand in principle that I am being accused of being the leader of a militant group in Aceh. Such allegations have been engineered and are just empty talk," he said in court.
The indictment accuses Bashir of meeting with the operations leader of Al Qaeda in Aceh, Dulmatin, who was also wanted by authorities and was killed last year.
Bashir is also accused of encouraging members of the group to conduct attacks - including murders and robberies - in the name of jihad, or holy war.
This is the third time Bashir has been tried for terrorism-related charges. He was convicted for the 2002 Bali bombings which killed over 200 people and were blamed on the Jemaah Islamiya. He spent 26 months in prison for conspiracy, before being freed in 2006 and cleared.
Prosecutors also unsuccessfully charged him with being involved in the bombings of churches across Indonesia in 2000 and the Marriott hotel in Jakarta in 2003.