Jail Terms Slashed for Indonesian Terrorists

An Islami militant who helped plan suicide bombings on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali was among dozens of imprisoned convicts who saw their sentences cut Tuesday as part of Independence Day commemorations.

Anif Solchanudin – who said he had no regrets after the 2005 attacks on three crowded restaurants and stilhoped one day to die a martyr – had five months taken off his 15-year jail term, said Chaeruddin Idrus, a Justice Ministry official on Java island.

Twenty other convicted militants jailed on the islands of Nusakambangan and Sulawesi had their sentences reduced by up to six months, according to prison offiials, and at least 33 elsewhere were awaiting word about proposed remissions.

The men were found guilty of crimes ranging from helping plan attacks to harboring terror suspects, illegal possession of weapons and withholding information about planned strikes.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has been hit by a string of suicide bombings blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaida-linked network, since 2002 when militants drove bomb-laden vehicles into two packed Bali nightclubs.

More than 600 militants have been arrested, convicted and thrown in jail since then.

The government has come under fire for its rehabilitation programs, however, with critics saying too many inmates relapse into criminal behavior after being freed from jail. Idrus said even convicted terrorists have a constitutional right to sentence reductions if they meet the necessary requirements.

The country traditionally cuts prison terms for some inmates for good behavior on national holidays, except those on death row or serving life in prison.

The Justice Ministry said 58,000 convicts benefited Tuesday, when Indonesia celebrated 65 years of independence from Dutch colonial rule. Of those about 4,700 were freed.

The ministry does not give a breakdown according to crimes.

But Chandran Listiyono, spokesman for the Directorate General of Prisons in the capital, Jakarta, said about 130 convicted militants are now behind bars and more than half of them asked for sentence cuts this time around.

The overwhelming majority of Indonesians are moderate Muslims who reject violence.

The 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, were followed by smaller attacks at the J.W. Marriott in 2003, the Australian Embassy in 2004, the 2005 Bali restaurant attacks, at strikes on two luxury hotels in 2009.

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