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Court restores full sentence for Indonesian cleric

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Indonesia’s highest court on Monday reinstated the 15-year jail sentence for a radical Islamic cleric who set up a terror training camp in western Indonesia, a court spokesman said.

Abu Bakar Bashir, known as the spiritual leader of al-Qaida-linked militants blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings and a string of other deadly attacks in the predominantly Muslim nation, was found guilty of inciting terrorism by a district court in June.

In October, the Jakarta High Court quietly reduced the 74-yaer-old cleric’s initial sentence to nine years on appeal, citing his age and good behavior in prison.

But his lawyers, insisting he was innocent and shouldn’t be in jail at all, appealed to the Supreme Court.

Spokesman Ridwan Mansyur said the panel of three judges instead decided by acclamation to reinstate the 15-year jail sentence.

Bashir was accused of providing key support for a jihadi training camp in westernmost Aceh province that brought together men from almost every known extremist group in the country.

They had allegedly been planning Mumbai-styled gun attacks on foreigners in the capital, Jakarta, and the assassinations of moderate leaders, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The camp was uncovered and shut down in early 2010.

Monday’s verdict came just four days after Washington branded Bashir’s new network, the Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid, a terrorist group that is seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia.

In doing so, it freezes any U.S. property the group might have, and prohibits providing material support to it.

Wirawan Adnan, one of Bashir’s lawyers, questioned the immediate announcement of the verdict which was not common for the highest court.

“It is ridiculous. I think the ruling was not based on the legal facts, but rather on ‘order’ from certain parties,” Adnan said.

He added that they will appeal for judicial review.

(This version CORRECTS first verdict was given in June, not March.)

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