Court ruling impedes case against Bashir

JAKARTA, Indonesia, AP

Indonesia said Monday that a court ruling curbing the retroactive use of a tough anti-terror law had hampered the case against militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

“We face a difficult situation,” said Justice Minister Yusril Mahendra. “The criminal code does not stipulate facilitating (terror) as a crime.”

He said prosecutors might also use a 1951 emergency law on illegal possession and use of explosives when trying Bashir, who is the alleged head of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror group blamed for the Oct. 12, 2002, Bali bombings.

Police have accused Bashir of involvement in the Bali blasts, which killed 202 people, though formal charges against him have yet to be filed.

Authorities had planned to charge him with violating the anti-terror law, which was passed in the months after the Bali blasts

On Friday, the Constitutional Court ruled the anti-terror law could not be used for crimes committed before its enactment. The court said, however, that convictions handed down on 32 militants already found guilty in the Bali bombings were unaffected by the ruling.

But lawyers for the Bali militants have said the ruling would lead to a wave of fresh appeals and judicial reviews of Bali bombing cases.

Attorneys for Bashir have demanded his immediate release from prison because he is being held under the anti-terror law. Mahendra said Saturday that Bashir would remain in prison, though gave no more details.

Bashir was originally tried two years ago, but authorities failed to convict him on charges he led the terror group. He was reasserted in April after serving time for immigration offenses.