IN the ultimate insult to Australia's Bali bombing victims, radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has bragged that he is planning to sue for damages after a controversial decision to clear him of terrorism charges.
The families of victims of the 2002 attack told of their despair that Bashir – widely regarded as the spiritual leader of the terrorists who murdered their loved ones – is free and planning to cash in.
And in a chilling warning, Bashir said his acquittal by an Indonesian court on Thursday was a blow for countries such as Australia and the US – and "heavier blows" would follow.
Spike Stewart, whose son Anthony was one of 88 Australians who died, said: "I just can't understand them saying, 'No, he had nothing to do with it'. The whole world knows he's guilty except for Indonesia.
"Now he'll probably sue for false imprisonment."
Bashir confirmed he might seek damages from the Indonesian Government for the 2½ years he spent in jail.
In a bizarre, rambling speech, Bashir – who has denied any involvement in the bombing – said the judges' decision was "honest and brave".
"This is evidence that even though all this time the West think that they can subjugate Indonesia, there are still some Muslims and Indonesians who have the courage to convey the truth," he said. "I hope the West will open their eyes – and if they remain adamant, there will be heavier blows. This is a blow and a warning for the West."
Victims' families said they were disgusted with the Supreme Court decision and that their Christmas had been shattered.
"He's ruined my life, he's ruined my family's life," Mr Stewart said.
"He's ruining hundreds and hundreds of families in Australia and all over the world."
Former Coogee Dolphins rugby club president Albert Talarico said the families of the six players who died in the bombings were devastated.
"I feel very sorry for the families at this time, that they would make this announcement three days before Christmas," he said.
Bashir, who according to intelligence is the spiritual leader of terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah, had been convicted of conspiracy over the bombings that took 202 lives.
Survivor Peter Hughes was disappointed but not surprised with the court's decision.
"Indonesia is a very corrupt society and I think they feel Bashir could be more of a problem with his followers if they didn't let him off," he said.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he was upset – but powerless to intervene.
"It is the court system of another country and we can't change that," Mr Howard said.
"But it doesn't stop us feeling upset and I know there will be a feeling of anger on the part of the parents and loved ones."
BB: Spiritual Leader of a terrorist organisation, Jemaah Islamiah ....sometimes I wish Australia would learn from a certain other country, the correct way of dealing with such terrorist leaders who openly and wantonly espouse hatred and violence.References:
Daily Telegraph: Now Bashir wants damages
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