- Associated Press - Saturday, April 16, 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesian authorities on Saturday moved the jailed spiritual leader of the 2002 Bali bombers from a notorious prison island amid demands by his lawyer to end his “inhumane” treatment.

The ailing 77-year-old Abu Bakar Bashir was confined to a tiny isolation cell on Nusa Kambangan in the wake of the Jan. 14 suicide bombings in the Indonesian capital Jakarta to prevent him from radicalizing other prisoners and to cut him off from extremist networks.

Hendra Eka Putra, the chief warden, said Bashir was moved to Gunung Sindur prison, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Jakarta. He was transported in an armored car from Jakarta to the prison in an operation involving more than 230 officers.

Bashir’s lawyer Mohammad Mahendradatta said Thursday that the condition of Bashir’s 2 square meter (22 square foot) cell was “simply shocking and inhumane treatment against him is causing his health to deteriorate.”

“His transfer was made on the basis of humanity because of his old and health-related rights,” Putra said. “The government has considered that he needed a prison that has better health facilities and doctors.”

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 funding 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.

Mahendradatta had told The Associated Press that Bashir was kept in his isolation cell for 23 hours a day and slept on thin mats over a cement floor without blankets. He was denied reading materials and personal items, regularly awakened from his sleep because of mosquitoes, and consultations with medical staff took place behind barriers.

Putra declined to say whether authorities would continue to isolate Bashir in his new prison. He said Bashir would not be denied basic rights.

The Gunung Sindur maximum-security prison, which was built in 2010, is equipped with high-tech security measures including cellular signal jammers to prevent unauthorized communications by inmates.


Follow Niniek Karmini: twitter.com/Niniek_AP

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