Attempts by Indonesian prosecutors to link Abu Bakar Bashir to terror attacks suffered a new setback yesterday when a convicted Bali bomber denied the militant Islamic cleric had any role in the attack. \nAli Imron, who is serving a life sentence for his part in the October 2002 bombings that killed 202 people including 88 Australians, told Bashir's trial that he had never received a direct order or blessing from Bashir to carry out the nightclub bombings. \nHe also said that the 66-year-old had never provided any financial support for the attack, which was blamed on the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group. \nBashir is on trial for inciting followers to stage the Bali bombings and a deadly attack on a Jakarta hotel. He could face the death penalty if convicted. \nBut several convicted terrorists brought to court as prosecution witnesses have denied knowledge that Bashir was involved in Jemaah Islamiyah. \nThe latest witness statement will come as a particular blow to prosecutors since Imron, who expressed remorse over the Bali bombings, has previously shown willingness to cooperate with police. Only Mohammad Nasir Abbas, a Malaysian former Jemaah Islamiyah regional commander, identified Bashir as the group's leader. \nBashir, who was cleared in 2003 of leading Jemaah Islamiyah, was released last April shortly after Indonesia's parliamentary polls. He was immediately re-arrested by police, who said they had new evidence of terror links. \nProsecutors say Bashir, as Jemaah Islamiyah chief, visited a rebel training camp in April 2000 and relayed a "ruling from Osama bin Laden which permitted attacks and killings of Americans and their allies." \nThe trial was adjourned till next Thursday.
The images of a besuited Ferdinand Marcos Jr, clad in a top hat and leaning nonchalantly on a Rolls-Royce, dating from his time in Britain in the 1970s, are as you might expect from the playboy scion of a kleptocratic dictator. Yet as the Marcos family returns to power in the Philippines after a landslide presidential victory by Marcos Jr, he is facing calls to stop misrepresenting the circumstances of his studies at the University of Oxford. The university has confirmed that he did not complete his degree in philosophy, politics and economics after enrolling in 1975. “According to our records, he did
CALIBRATED RESPONSE: The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants to assess the situation and the risks, the transport minister said Singapore will strive to keep its borders open and stay connected to the rest of world even if a new variant of COVID-19 emerges, Singaporean Minister for Transport S. Iswaran said on Wednesday. The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants, Iswaran said in an interview with Bloomberg News. When the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 hit, Singapore did not backtrack on its reopening plans, but rather decided to wait and see how things panned out, he said, adding that the response was different versus the Delta outbreak. “We’ve all learned to adapt,” Iswaran said on the sidelines
Administrators at an elite Beijing university have backed down from plans to further tighten restrictions on students as part of China’s “zero COVID-19” strategy after a weekend protest at the school, students said on Tuesday. Graduate students at Peking University staged the protest on Sunday over the school’s decision to erect a sheet-metal wall to keep them further sequestered on campus, while allowing faculty to come and go freely. Discontent had already been simmering over regulations prohibiting them from ordering in food or having visitors, and daily COVID-19 testing. A citywide lockdown of Shanghai and expanded restrictions in Beijing in the past few
A former Australian envoy to the Solomon Islands has accused Australia’s government of losing the trust of South Pacific island countries and of ushering in greater Chinese influence. Retired career diplomat Trevor Sofield told a security summit yesterday that he found it “inconceivable” that the Solomon Islands government did not trust Australia enough to consult with it when a bilateral security pact with Beijing was first considered. “That would not have happened a few years ago,” said Sofield, who was Australian high commissioner to the Solomon Islands from 1982 to 1985. The pact, which was concluded last month, has been a major issue