JAKARTA • Abu Bakar Bashir, the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) spiritual leader now behind bars for terrorism offences, has been moved from a maximum security prison island off the coast of Central Java to a jail in Bogor, about an hour's drive from Jakarta.
The high-risk prisoner transfer from Nusakambangan prison in Cilacap regency to Gunung Sindur prison in Bogor, West Java, was completed just after noon yesterday.
The move was not made public until wardens at Gunung Sindur, which currently houses about 424 inmates, took custody of Bashir.
The operation was conducted under heavy guard involving about 300 police officers, including troops from the elite Mobile Brigade (Brimob), said an official from the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, which oversees the state penitentiary system.
Bashir is the co-founder of the JI terror network in South-east Asia. A group of his followers was responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.
The 77-year-old cleric was moved to the smaller prison so that he is nearer to a city, where he can receive proper medical treatment if needed, said Mr Atmadji Sumarkidjo, a senior official from the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs.
Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly had said earlier that Indonesia planned to separate terrorist inmates such as Bashir and ideologue Aman Abdurrahman by moving them out of the Nusakambangan island prison, where they were already placed in isolation.
He added that the government decided to move the clerics away from Nusakambangan to curb their influence on other inmates as well as their followers outside of prison.