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Indonesian court slammed for cutting terrorist's sentence  

Rights groups express outrage after 'Bali mastermind' sees life term reduced to 19 years
Indonesian court slammed for cutting terrorist's sentence  

An Indonesian policeman walks in front of the monument dedicated to those killed in the 2002 Bali bombing in the tourist district of Kuta near Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on Jan. 22, 2016. (Photo: AFP)

Published: February 17, 2022 08:26 AM GMT
Updated: February 18, 2022 03:57 AM GMT

A Jakarta-based rights group has strongly criticized an Indonesian court’s decision to reduce the jail term of a high-profile terrorist from the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group.

Taufik Bulaga was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by East Jakarta District Court in December last year for terrorism-related crimes.

Called the “professor” by his group because of his bomb-making skills, he was arrested by the anti-terror squad Densus 88 in Lampung province in November 2020 after evading authorities since 2006.

He was found guilty of involvement in several terror attacks in Central Sulawesi province that killed dozens of people, including the shooting of Reverend Susianti Tinulele of the Central Sulawesi Christian Church in the provincial capital Palu in 2004, a market bombing in Tentena in 2005 and a bomb attack in 2006.

It is believed he was also the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed at least 202 people and for making the bombs for attacks on the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta in 2009.  

Despite being handed a life term, Jakarta High Court on Feb. 14 decided to reduce his sentence to 19 years in prison.

Revenge or crimes like this must never be justified ... The court has set a bad precedent by reducing a terrorist’s jail term on this basis

It said it took into consideration his admission of the crimes and his motivation for making bombs since many members of his family and friends were killed.

The court did not explain the circumstances behind their deaths or why this would have driven Bulaga to become a terrorist.

The move was condemned by rights groups.

“The panel of judges through this ruling is saying revenge or grief are a justification for the perpetrating of terrorism,” Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, said in a statement received by UCA News on Feb. 16.

“Revenge or crimes like this must never be justified ... The court has set a bad precedent by reducing a terrorist’s jail term on this basis.”

He accused the court of failing to show empathy with Bulaga’s victims. “The fact is that many innocent people are victims of terror attacks. This should be what a court looks at,” he said.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, a lawyer and coordinator of the Indonesian bishops’ Advocacy and Human Rights Forum, called on the attorney general to file an appeal with the Supreme Court to overturn the High Court’s ruling.

“The High Court got it wrong. The judges saw terrorism as ordinary crimes when this is not the case since there are many victims, especially in this instance,” he said.

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