World

Cleric linked to Bali bombing faces re-arrest

Indonesia vows to re-arrest Muslim cleric believed connected to Bali bombing when he's released from jail on Friday.

An Indonesian cleric suspected of leading a group linked to al-Qaeda will be re-arrested when he's released from jail on Friday, Indonesian police said.

Abu Bakar Bashir is believed to be the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, a group blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings. The 65-year-old cleric is winding up an 18-month sentence for immigration charges.

National police spokesperson Maj.-Gen. Bashir Ahmad Barmawi said police have new evidence linking Bashir to involvement in a terrorist training centre in the Philippines.

Top Muslim leaders in Indonesia have spoken out in defence of Bashir. Dozens of supporters have camped out around his Jakarta prison.

Bashir's lawyers say Indonesian authorities are bowing to pressure from Washington. The United States and Australia consider Bashir a terrorist.

In September 2003, Bashir was sentenced to four years in prison for his involvement in a plot to overthrow the government. In December 2003, the treason charge was overturned and his sentence was reduced to three months. A forgery charge was upheld. Then last month, the charge was again reduced to 18 months.

On Oct. 12, 2002, two bombs exploded near nightclubs on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, killing 202 people and injuring 209. Two Canadians were killed in the blast.