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Homeland Security

SLUG: 2-318463 Bashir / Indictment









HEADLINE: Indonesian Authorities Ready to Charge Alleged Terror Leader

INTRO: Police in Indonesia have given prosecutors their file on the alleged leader of regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. The move means militant Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir is one step closer to prosecution. But as Tim Johnston reports from Jakarta, legal technicalities will make any case hard for the prosecutors to win.

TEXT: Indonesian police and foreign intelligence agencies believe that Bashir was the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah. The group's members were responsible for the October 2002 Bali nightclub bombing, which killed 202 people, and last August's Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta, in which 12 people died.

On Wednesday, police formally handed over to prosecutors the dossier containing their investigation into Bashir. He also was placed in the custody of the prosecutors.

His lawyers said they expect him to be charged with involvement in both bombings, but say evidence particularly on the Marriott blast is thin.

Wirawan Adnan is a member of Bashir's defense team.

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"The charge is under the terrorism law, but he is charged presumably for involvement in the Marriott bombing, but we find that ridiculous and unlikely because he had been in detention for eight months when the Marriott bombing took place. He believes this is injustice and he believes this is heavily influenced by the United States and especially by Australia."

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Prosecutors had wanted to charge Bashir under Indonesia's anti-terrorism law, which requires a lighter burden of proof, but the country's

Constitutional Court ruled last month that the law could not be used to try people for the Bali bombing.

Because he will be prosecuted under the regular criminal code, Bashir is unlikely to face some of the more serious charges, such as controlling terrorism.

Prosecutors will examine the police dossier and, if necessary, send it back for more work, but Bashir's lawyers say they expect formal charges to be filed in the next two or three weeks.

The elderly cleric has been convicted on immigration charges, but earlier attempts to convict him in connection with a series of church bombings were thrown out by the courts.

Bashir has always denied being the leader of J.I. and being involved in terrorism. However, many of the members of the gangs that carried out the bombings were students at the Islamic boarding school he founded and ran until his arrest. Some of the Bali bombers also implicated him during their trials. (signed)


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