World

Indonesia overturns bombing conviction against militant cleric

Indonesia's Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the conviction that sent militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir to jail for more than two years in connection with the 2002 Bali bombings.

Indonesia's Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the conviction that sent militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir to jail for more than two years in connection with the 2002 Bali bombings.

The ruling was largely symbolic as Bashir, 68, was released from prison in June after completing a 26-month sentence for conspiracy in the 2002 bombings that killed 202 people.

But it will give a boost to Bashir's supporters in the world's most populous Muslim nation, who have long maintained the cleric was locked up on the orders of the United States.

Washington and its regional ally Australia have publicly accused Bashir of being a key leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyahmilitant group, blamed for the Bali attacks and several other bombings in Indonesia.

Bashir's son, Abdurrahmin, said his father had received word of the verdict.

"Thank God the Supreme Court has finally revealed the final truth," he said by telephone from Bashir's hometown on Java island. "He is praying now to say thanks to God that his prayers have been accepted."

Thursday's ruling was in response to an appeal filed during Bashir's imprisonment.

Supreme Court Chief Judge German Hoediarto told reporters that the appeal, known as a judicial review, had been successful. He gave no other details other than to say that judges had heard from 30 witnesses.

The court normally releases written verdicts giving more details several weeks after hearings end.