Indonesia releases convicted Bali bomber Umar Patek

Patek was serving a 20 year sentence for his role in the 2002 attacks that killed 202 people from 21 countries.

Umar Patek who was convicted over his role in the Bali bombings folding the Indonesian flag and wearing a traditional songkok hat with the Indonesian garuda during a ceremony in prison
Indonesia said Umar Patek (second left) had "shown changes" and pledged allegiance to the Indonesian state [File: Umarul Faruq/Antara Foto via Reuters]

Indonesia has released on parole Umar Patek, convicted for his role in the Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people in 2002, after he completed just more than half of his sentence.

Patek, a member of the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), was jailed for 20 years in 2012 after he was found guilty of mixing the bombs used in the attack on two busy nightclubs in the resort town of Kuta.

Following his release, Patek will be required to join a “mentoring programme” until April 2030, according to a statement from the ministry of law and human rights on Wednesday that announced his release.

His parole will be revoked if he violates any of its terms during that time, the ministry added.

The Bali attacks were the worst in Indonesian history and led to a crackdown on hardline groups such as JI. Australia and the United States also provided funding and assistance to strengthen Jakarta’s counterterrorism operations.

Indonesia announced in August that Patek had become eligible for parole after some reductions to his sentence, in a decision criticised by Australia, home to 88 of the Bali attacks.

On Thursday, Peter Hughes, one of 200 people injured in the bombings and who spoke at Patek’s trial, said the convicted bomb-maker deserved to serve the “harshest sentence”.

“For him to be let out, it’s laughable,” he told the Australian national broadcaster ABC.

Patek was captured in Pakistan in 2011 after nearly 10 years on the run.

Prosecutors sought a life sentence for the 52-year-old because he showed remorse during his trial and the judge sentenced him to 20 years. Patek was also convicted over other charges related to a series of bombings in Jakarta in 2000 that targeted Christmas Eve church services and killed 19 people.

Indonesia regularly gives sentence remissions to inmates to mark Indonesia’s August 17 independence day.

Authorities believe Patek had “shown changes” after undergoing a deradicalisation programme, Law and Human Rights Ministry Spokesperson Rika Aprianti told AFP.

“Most importantly, he has pledged allegiance to the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia,” she said.

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles urged Indonesia to keep Patek under “constant surveillance”.

Tied side-by-side to wooden posts on a small prison island, most of the attackers were executed by firing squad in 2008.

Ali Imron, who helped organise the attack and drove the van packed with explosives, is serving a life sentence after showing remorse during his trial.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies