Cleric’s supporters bussed in to Jakarta

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Eight busloads, or around 400 supporters, came from the city of Solo, central Java, where Bashir’s notorious Ngruki boarding school is based, to join around 100 of the 65-year-old’s faithful who were already waiting outside Jakarta’s Salemba Prison.

Bashir was due to be released from the jail today after serving 18 months for minor immigration offences. His original sentence was halved on appeal.

The suspected spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terror network had earlier this week refused to answer new police questions about his links to terrorism during an hour-long interrogation at the jail.

Police queried Bashir about a copy of JI’s manifesto and terrorism handbook, known as the Pupji, and asked about his alleged presence at a meeting with militants at a JI training camp in the Philippines in late 1999 or early 2000, Tempointeraktif said.

A letter from police headquarters to Bashir’s legal team said the cleric was being questioned over four sections of Indonesia’s tough anti-terrorism laws, put in place after Bali and carrying the death sentence.