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APAC

Australia says Indonesia must ensure cleric is not a threat after release

FILE PHOTO: Indonesian radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir enters a courtroom for the first day of an appeal hearing in Cilacap, Central Java province, January 12, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside/File Photo

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Indonesia must ensure a radical cleric and suspected mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings does not incite more violence when he is released from jail this week, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said on Tuesday.

Abu Bakar Bashir was jailed in 2011 for links to militant training camps in the Indonesian province of Aceh. He is considered the spiritual leader of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah (JI) network, which was accused of orchestrating the bombings of nightclubs on the holiday island of Bali.

“Our embassy in Jakarta has made clear our concerns that such individuals be prevented from further inciting others to carry out future attacks against innocent civilians,” Payne said in a statement.

Bashir, 82, denied any involvement in the Bali bombings. A lawyer for Bashir did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his release, due on Friday.

The Bali bombings killed more than 200 people, among them scores of Australians. JI operatives were also accused of organising an attack on the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people in 2003.

A senior JI operative was believed to have made bombs for both attacks.

Payne said Australia has told Indonesia to ensure he is no longer a danger to others. [L4N2JF2CG]

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Robert Birsel

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