'Bali Bombings' Cleric Says Jail Conditions Inhumane

Militant Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir arrives at a hospital to undergo medical treatment, in Jakarta, Indonesia in a February 2012 file photo. Photo: Tatan Syuflana / Associated Press

JAKARTA — A lawyer for the spiritual leader of the militants who carried out the 2002 Bali bombings is urging Indonesian authorities to end his "inhumane" treatment in prison.

The radical Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has been confined to a tiny isolation cell on the Nusa Kambangan prison island as part of a broad tightening of security in the wake of the Jan. 14 suicide bombings in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

Authorities say isolation measures, which are also being applied to other top convicted militants, are needed to stop the ailing 77-year-old Bashir from radicalizing prisoners and to cut him off from extremist networks.

Lawyer Mohammad Mahendradatta said Thursday that Bashir is kept in his 2 square meter cell for 23 hours a day and sleeps on thin mats over a cement floor without blankets.


He is denied reading materials and personal items, regularly awakened from his sleep because of mosquitos, and consultations with medical staff take place behind barriers.

"The condition of his cell is simply shocking and inhumane treatment against him is causing his health to deteriorate," Mahendradatta said.

The claim of mistreatment comes amid heightened concerns among the public and rights groups about possible extrajudicial killings following the recent death in custody of an alleged militant.

Police said the militant, known as Siyono, had concealed a handgun and attacked officers. But an autopsy conducted last week at the request of Siyono's wife and backed by Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second-largest Muslim group, revealed that the 34-year-old died from trauma to the chest and had no defensive wounds on his body.

The findings prompted Indonesia's parliament to summon the national police chief and the anti-terrorism agency chief to a hearing next week.

Bashir, known as the spiritual leader of al-Qaida-linked militants behind the Bali bombings that killed 202 people, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011.

Prosecutors said he was a key player in supporting a militant training camp in Aceh that brought together men from almost every known extremist group in predominantly Muslim Indonesia. A higher court later cut the sentence to nine years.

Akbar Hadi Prabowo, spokesman for the directorate general overseeing prisons, said Bashir has appropriate facilities for an isolation prisoner.


"The information we have is that Bashir is in a state of good health," he said. "There is no mistreatment against Bashir, he gets proper facilities for the inmate who is placed in isolation."

Mahendradatta said his assessment of Bashir's prison conditions was based on recent access by his team of lawyers.

Story: Iniek Karmini / Associated Press