Lawmakers to intercede for Abubakar


JAKARTA: Indonesian legislators will urge police to release militant Islamic cleric Abubakar Ba’asyir, who was rearrested last week on terrorism charges, a senior parliamentary official said yesterday.  

“We will ask police to release him and place him under house arrest,'' said Hamdan Zulva of parliament's powerful Commission for Legal and Human Rights Affairs. 

He said the panel would meet today with police chief Gen Da'i Bachtiar to find out if the charges against Abubakar were trumped up by investigators under pressure from the United States. 

Abubakar, 66, was rearrested on Friday – the day he finished serving an 18-month term for minor immigration offences. 

Police say they have new evidence that Abubakar is the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah. They said he approved a string of bombings dating to 2000, including the Oct 12, 2002 Bali attack. 

KEEPING RECORD: Abubakar's son Abdul Rahim Bashir (left) checking the computer while another unidentified Abubakar supporter takes a photograph during the hearing with parliament members in Jakarta yesterday. —AFPpic

Abubakar's lawyers claimed that his rearrest was ordered by Washington, which views him as a dangerous radical. 

They cited recent meetings between US Secretary for Homeland Security Tom Ridge and senior Indonesian officials as evidence of Washington's pressure on authorities here. 

During a visit to Indonesia in April, Ridge said Abubakar had “intense and deep involvement in the planning and execution of terrorist activities'' and should be tried again. – AP  

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