|Jemaah Islamiyah has been linked to the 2002 Bali bombings which claimed the lives of more than 200 people [AFP]|
A prominent Indonesian cleric facing life in prison on terrorism charges has rejected the trial as outside Islamic law.
Abu Bakar Bashir, who is accused of helping set up and fund a “terror” training camp in Indonesia’s Aceh province, claimed his innocence on Monday in a final court appearance before the announcement of the verdict.
Bashir, 72, denies involvement with the training camp but has repeatedly defended it as legal under Islam.
The cleric told a Jakarta court that the case against him was fabricated and witnesses that testified by teleconference were doing so under pressure and so their testimonies could not be trusted.
Citing verses from the Quran, Bashir said he rejected the trial as counter to Islam.
Prosecutors have sought a life sentence for Bashir, who co-founded the Jemaah Islamiyah network, which is blamed for some of the country’s deadliest suicide bombings.
The group allegedly planned a string of attacks on foreigners and assassinations of moderate Muslim leaders, including Susilo Bambang, the country’s former president.
Prosecutors say testimony from dozens of witnesses at Bashir’s trial proved he not only incited others but also played an active role in terrorist activities.
A panel of five judges is to announce Bashir’s verdict on June 16. The maximum penalty for the terror charges is death.
Indonesia, a secular nation of 237 million with more Muslims than any other in the world, has made strides in fighting terrorism since the first Jemaah Islamiyah-linked attack in Bali in 2002, which killed more than 200 people – mostly Western tourists.
But the country still has pockets of Muslim fighters who have carried out violent attacks in recent months on minorities and police.