Indonesian officials said Friday that all prisoners, including a reputed leader of the militant group suspected in bombings on the island of Bali, may have their sentences reduced as part of celebrations marking the end of Ramadan.
Indonesia traditionally cuts prison terms on national holidays — usually for several months — for the country’s 105,000 inmates who exhibit good behavior. Only those sentenced to death or life in prison are excluded.
“In principle, we all are concerned by sentence reductions for those convicted for terrorist activities, but as long as the current law is not revised, those who deserve it will have their jail terms reduced,” said Kartono Supangat, director general of the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.
He said the prisoners under consideration will include Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged spiritual leader of the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, who is serving a 30-month jail term for his role in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people. The group also is suspected in the Oct. 1 suicide bombings in Bali that left 23 people dead.
Five terror suspects on death row
Indonesian authorities have arrested and brought to trial dozens of terror suspects in the last three years, sentencing several important Jemaah Islamiyah members — including Bashir. Five are on death row.
Bashir’s sentence was reduced by 4½ months in August as part of Indonesia’s Independence Day celebrations. The sentences of 18 others convicted in the 2002 bombings were also reduced, and one person was freed at the time.
On Thursday, the United States warned Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Indonesia, saying the Oct. 1 suicide bombing showed that terrorists were still active.
The warning came hours before Jakarta’s police chief disclosed at least 18 sites in the capital are potential targets of bomb attacks ahead of and during next week’s celebration of the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.
Supangat said the sentence reductions would be announced during next week’s Eid-al-Fitr celebration at the end of Ramadan.