Alleged mastermind of Bali bombings released

He was the accused mastermind behind the Bali bombings, attacks that struck several nightclubs in the bar district of Kuta in 2002, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians.

And on Friday (January 8) Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir was released from prison in Indonesia's west Java province after he served 10 years in prison.

He was imprisoned in 2011 for 15 years for his links to a militant training camp but his jail term was reduced.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Bashir's release is distressing to victims' families, but added that Australia has to respect Indonesia's justice system.

"It's hard, and it's gut-wrenching, having spent time with the families of those victims, of that terrible bombing. We have always called for those who were involved to face tougher, proportionate and just sentences in these cases."

82-year-old Bashir is regarded as the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, a jihadist network with ties to al Qaeda.

The Bali bombings were the single worst attack on Australian citizens from an act of terror many of them were on holiday at the island's popular beach resorts.

Although Indonesian police and Western intelligence agencies say he was involved with a deadly bombing a year later at Jakarta's Marriott Hotel, he was never convicted for those attacks and denied those ties.

While in jail he also pledged allegiance to the Islamic Slate.

Other extremist groups have since formed in the world's biggest Muslim majority country, and Bashir's son told Reuters ahead of Bashir's release he would return to Al-Mukmin, an Islamic boarding school founded by his father, whose graduates have been linked to militant networks.

Authorities said Bashir would enter a programme for deradicalisation.