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Accused Terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir on Trial in Jakarta - 2003-04-23


The trial of a Muslim cleric and suspected terrorist leader has opened in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. Abu Bakar Bashir stands accused of treason for trying to topple the Indonesian government. Patricia Nunan has more from Jakarta.

Supporters of Abu Bakar Bashir shout "God is Greatest" as the Muslim cleric entered the courtroom.

Prosecutors read out a 25-page indictment accusing Mr. Bashir of being the “spiritual leader” of Jemaah Islamiyah - a regional terrorist network allegedly linked to al-Qaeda. Jemaah Islamiyah aims to create a pan-Islamic state across Southeast Asia.

He is charged with several bombings in Indonesia designed to topple the government so that an Islamic state can be formed. He is also accused of links to failed plots against U.S. interests in Singapore. Authorities arrested Mr. Bashir in October shortly after more than 200 people died in a deadly bomb attack on the island of Bali. Police blame the attack on Jemaah Islamiyah. But Mr. Bashir has not been indicted in connection to that incident.

Mr. Bashir has consistently denied all charges of terrorism against him.

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