Indonesia has reduced the 30-month sentence handed down to controversial cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir for his role in the Bali bombings.
| Ba'asyir denies the charges against him|
Ba'asyir, who was found guilty in March of conspiracy in the 2002 attack that killed 202 people, had his jail term cut by four months and 15 days.
Seventeen others convicted of playing a role in the bombings had their sentences cut by three months.
There is a tradition of remissions for Indonesia's Independence Day.
Ba'asyir has denied the charges against him, but his appeal has been rejected.
Ba'asyir "received a remission of four months and 15 days," Dedi Sutardi, chief warden at Cipinang Prison in Jakarta, announced.
This means the 66-year-old cleric could be released from prison by May 2007.
Mr Sutardi said Ba'asyir deserved a remission for good behaviour.
"All he does in prison is devote himself to religious service," he was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.
The announcement was met with anger from victims' families in the UK and Australia.
|| They showed no clemency when they attacked so many innocent people mercilessly |
Susanna Miller, UK
Australian Brian Deegan, whose son Josh was killed in the bombings, said the reduction was an insult.
"I just find it obnoxious, repulsive. I always thought life was more valuable than that, but it appears that it's not," Mr Deegan told reporters.
Briton Susanna Miller, whose brother Dan was killed, was also shocked by the move.
"They showed no clemency when they attacked so many innocent people mercilessly, and it's deeply distressing to think that they may have any sort of remission. We as relatives will never get any sort of remission from what happened to our loved ones," she told the BBC.
Both the US and Australian governments criticised the original length of Ba'asyir's sentence when it was handed down after his trial.
Washington has alleged Jemaah Islamiah (JI) has ties to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
JI is also suspected of being behind the 2003 JW Marriott hotel bombing in Jakarta that killed 12 people including the suicide bomber, and the September 2004 Australian Embassy bombing that killed nine, including the bomber.
Ba'asyir was cleared of involvement in the JW Marriott bombing by the court in March.
He was also acquitted of ordering the Bali bombings.
But many intelligence experts are convinced that he remains a dangerous figurehead for a generation of Muslim militants.
Some 2,000 prisoners are said to have had their sentences reduced as a reward for good behaviour to mark the country's Independence Day.
But the ringleaders of the Bali attack, who were sentenced either to death or life in prison, are not eligible for any remission.
Sentences cut for convicted Bali bombers
By Irwan Firdaus, Associated Press Writer | August 16, 2005
JAKARTA, Indonesia --A militant cleric and 17 others convicted in the 2002 bombings that killed 202 people on the resort island of Bali have received sentence reductions of several months to mark Indonesia's independence day, wardens said Wednesday.
Cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged spiritual head of the al-Qaida-linked terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, was originally given a 30-month prison sentence for his role in the bombings, which killed many Australian tourists.
On Wednesday he was given a 4 1/2-month sentence reduction, said Dedi Sutardi, the chief warden at Cipinang Prison in Jakarta, which means he could be released from prison in May 2007.
Seventeen other Bali bombers, who were originally sentenced up to 16 years, received three-month reductions, said Bromo Setiono, chief warden at the Kerobokan jail in Bali's capital Denpasar.
It is an Indonesian tradition to cut jail terms on holidays for some of the country's 105,000 inmates who exhibit good behavior, with only those sentenced to death or life in prison excluded.
"This is the right of all inmates all over Indonesia, including those involved in the Bali bombings," said Setiono.
Many people in Australia consider the Bali bombings as tantamount to an attack on their own country, and the decision to cut the sentences -- especially Bashir's -- was expected to draw loud protests.
The 66-year-old Muslim cleric, who is bitterly anti-Western, was convicted in March of conspiracy in the near simultaneous bombings on two crowded nightclubs. The Supreme Court recently rejected his appeal.
Jemaah Islamiyah is suspected in several other deadly attacks, including the 2003 J.W. Marriott hotel bombing that killed 12 people, and the September 2004 Australian Embassy bombing that killed 11.