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Son of Malaysian Islamic Party Leader Jailed - 2001-09-25

The son of the spiritual leader of Malaysia's leading Islamist party has been jailed for two years. The Malaysian government accuses the man of seeking to destabilize the country, charges which he denies.

Officials of the Pan Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS) have confirmed reports that Nik Adli Nik Abdul Aziz was taken on Tuesday to Kamunting detention center, near the city of Ipoh 200 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur, to serve a two-year sentence.

Mr. Nik Adli, who is the son of the party's spiritual leader, was arrested in August along with six other party members under Malaysia's Internal Security Act. The act allows security forces to detain individuals without trial virtually indefinitely.

PAS general secretary Nasharudin Mat Isa criticized the prison order. "We strongly condemn the detention of Nik Adli, the son of our spiritual leader," he said. "Here in Malaysia this draconian law is still in practice. Detention without trial seems to be quite common. To us it is totally against human rights and totally against the basic principles of law even."

Mr. Nasharudin says party officials have not been told why Mr. Nik Adli was arrested.

News Agencies say Malaysian authorities have accused Mr. Nik Adli of seeking to overthrow the government and of aiding violent Islamist groups in the region. Mr. Nik Adli denies the charges.

The PAS members were arrested in early August, during a crackdown on the Malaysian Mujahidin Group. The Malaysian government said it discovered caches of arms that were to be used in attacks in the region.

PAS General-Secretary Nasharudin acknowledges his party wants to establish an Islamic state, but he denies it has any links to violence. "As far as the Islamic Party is concerned, we have participated in the process of democracy in Malaysia since 1951," he said. "We have participated in all the general elections, and terrorism, militancy is not one of our ways of doing things here."

Mr. Nasharudin says the Malaysian government is trying to discredit his party by linking its activities to extremists.