Abubakar to face trial for treason

JAKARTA: Muslim cleric Abubakar Ba'asyir was handed over to prosecutors in Indonesia yesterday to face trial for treason, police said. 

Abubakar, who was charged in January, has been described by several South-East Asian nations as the spiritual leader of a radical network blamed for the Bali bomb blasts. Abubakar denies any link and has not been charged in relation to that attack. 

“We gave Abubakar away to Jakarta's district attorney early this morning,” police spokesman Edward Aritonang said.  

“The files have been completed and he is ready to be put on trial.” 

Officials blame Jemaah Islamiah, a South-East Asian network, for the blasts that killed more than 200 people on Bali on Oct 12. 

Abubakar, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested in October for suspected involvement in a different set of bombings – of Indonesian churches around Christmas 2000 – and for a plot to kill President Megawati Sukarnoputri. 

Prosecutors only accept custody of prisoners when they accept there is a case strong enough to go to court. While no trial date has been set, the hearing could open within weeks. 

Aritonang said the charges against Abubakar covered “treason against the state, immigration violation, and documents falsifications, and others”. 

Aritonang said earlier this week police were still investigating Abubakar's possible role in the Bali attack.  

Other police officials have said Abubakar gave his blessing to that action. The 64-year-old Abubakar could face life in prison if convicted of treason. 

He fled to Malaysia in 1985 after serving a three-year jail term for subversion but never notified the Indonesian embassy there of his presence – a necessary requirement if he wished to retain his Indonesian citizenship. 

He returned to Indonesia after the fall of dictator Suharto in 1998. – Agencies  

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