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Indonesian Court Rules Detention of Suspected JI Leader  is Legal - 2004-06-14

An Indonesian court says suspected terrorist leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, will remain in custody pending charges. The court dismissed his complaint that his current incarceration is illegal. Bashir is believed to be the spiritual head of Jemaah Islamiyah, which bombed a Bali nightclub and an American-run hotel in Jakarta.

Abu Bakar Bashir has been held for a month at police headquarters in Jakarta pending possible new terrorism charges based on new evidence. He was arrested upon leaving prison, where he served an 18-month sentence for immigration violations.

He is being held under anti-terrorism law that allows for six months detention without charge. An Indonesian court Monday ruled the Muslim cleric's arrest and detention were legal and dismissed Bashir's challenge.

Bashir, the 65-year-old principal of an Islamic boarding school, is suspected of being the spiritual leader of the regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. JI was responsible for the bombing of a nightclub on the island of Bali, which killed more than 200 mostly foreign tourists, and an attack on the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, in which 12 people died.

Bashir denies any involvement in terrorism, although he speaks out about his hatred of the West in general and of the United States in particular.

His lawyer, Mahedradatta, says his continued incarceration is solely the result of American pressure on the Indonesian authorities and that the Indonesian legal system is being abused.

"This is not the problem of the person named Abu Bakar Bashir, it is a problem of legal historians and also the legal future of Indonesia," he said.

Most of those who were physically involved in the Bali and Marriott bombings have been arrested, convicted and three of them have been sentenced to death.

Jemaah Islamiyah - Southeast Asia's al-Qaida terrorist link - aims to create a pan-Islamic state in the region. JI suspects have been arrested in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.