Bali Conspirator's Sentence Appealed

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Indonesian prosecutors have appealed a 30-month sentence handed down to militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir (search) for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali bombings — a move likely to please Australia and the United States, which are hoping for a longer sentence against the preacher.

Chief prosecutor Salman Maryadi said Wednesday he filed the appeal with the Jakarta High Court because last week's verdict was "too lenient." The appeal, lodged on Monday, will likely take several months to be heard.

On Tuesday, Bashir's attorneys appealed the sentence to the same court, arguing that the conviction was weak because it relied solely on the testimony of a convicted Bali bomber who never appeared in court.

Analysts have said Bashir has a good chance of having the sentence reduced or quashed on appeal.

Bashir was convicted last week of conspiracy in the Bali bombings (search), which killed 202 people. But it cleared him of more serious charges of planning the 2003 attack on the U.S.-owned J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people.

The 30-month sentence was decried by the governments of the United States and Australia, which were hoping for a longer term, something they said would deter terrorism in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Both nations contend that Bashir is the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaida-linked group blamed for both attacks and for a series of terror plots elsewhere in Southeast Asia. The 66-year-old cleric is known for strong anti-Western and anti-Semitic views, but has always maintained his innocence.