Radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the suspected mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings, has been freed from prison in Indonesia and is on his way home.
The 82-year-old was driven out of a prison in Bogor, in West Java, in the early hours of Friday, after the end of his 15-year sentence for terror offences.
Bashir, wearing a face mask, was driven from the prison in a van at 5.20am local time and was heading to his home in central Java.
His release has provoked dismay and anger in Australia from victims’ families and survivors of the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings.
The Bali bombings killed 88 Australians.
The Australian government to warn Indonesia he must not be allowed to incite violence after leaving jail.
Bashir’s 15-year sentence for his involvement in a terrorist training camp in the Indonesian province of Aceh expired on Friday after he was given 55 months of traditional remissions.
Bahsir is widely believed to have been the spiritual leader of terror group Jemaah Islamiyah at the time it orchestrated the Bali bombings and a string of other terrorist attacks in Indonesia.
However, his 2004 conviction for being part of the “evil conspiracy” of the Bali bombings was later overturned on appeal and no charges in relation to those bombings have ever stuck.
Speaking to AAP ahead of the release, Bashir’s son, Abdul Rochim, hit out at Australian government warnings to Indonesia to ensure Bashir is banned from inciting violence once he is freed.
Rochim, popularly known as Ustad Lim, told AAP Australia need not worry about his father, who is now old and frail.
Rochim said he had read the Australian government’s warnings about his father’s release.
“I think it’s too much. Why should they (Australia) intervene in other people’s business,” he said.
“I want to ask, how has Australia been harmed by Ustad Abu Bakar Bashir? If they said that Australians were harmed because of the Bali bombing, the Bali bombing has no connection with Ustad Abu Bakar Bashir.
“I don’t understand why Australia hates Abu Bakar Bashir. Abu Bakar Bashir was never involved in anything related to the Bali bombing.”
Rochim said none of the main perpetrators of the Bali bombing had ever testified that his father ordered the twin nightclub attacks.
He said his father was weak and needed help to walk and planned to spend his time at home with his family, his wife, children and grandchildren.
It was unlikely his father would return to teaching at the Ngruki Muslim boarding school which he co-founded, he said.