A bomb maker involved in a Bali terror attack that left 202 people dead could be freed this month after having his sentence slashed in Indonesia.
Umar Patek was originally sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2012 after being convicted of helping to mix the bombs that obliterated two popular tourist bars on the paradisiac island in 2002. The attacks, which left another 209 people injured, were carried out by members of Jemaah Islamiyah—a violent Islamist group affiliated with al Qaeda—with Osama Bin Laden purportedly voicing a cassette message obtained by media explaining that the attack was partly a retaliation for the U.S. War on Terror. Seven Americans were among the dead.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Patek had his sentence reduced by five months to coincide with Indonesia’s independence day, which now makes the bomb-maker eligible for parole. The sentence reduction is one of several Patek has received, but the decision to grant him parole has yet to be confirmed.
As well as the slaughtered Americans, 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians, and 23 Britons were among those killed when a suicide bomber entered Paddy’s Irish Bar and detonated his device on October 12, 2002.
Terrified tourists fled the carnage to the street outside the bar. But a van packed with much more powerful explosives, parked opposite the Irish pub, blew up around 20 seconds later. Local medical infrastructure in the Kuta area was overwhelmed by the huge number of casualties, many of whom were badly burned.
After being informed of the reduction in Patek’s sentence, Albanese said “We informed [Indonesia] of our view of that decision.” He added: “They have a system whereby when anniversaries occur, quite often sentences are reduced and commuted for people. But when it comes to someone who’s committed such a heinous crime, a designer and maker of a bomb designed to kill people, to kill and maim, then we have a very strong view.”
Albanese argued that the bombing victims’ families would be distressed by Patek’s potential release, and that he would continue to lobby the Indonesian government to not allow the terrorist to be released after serving just half of his original sentence. Three other terrorists convicted for the attacks were executed by firing squad in 2008, while a fourth died in a shootout with Indonesian cops in 2010.
Patek was finally brought to justice after spending nine years on the lam, despite having a $1 million bounty on his head. When authorities caught him in January 2011, he was hiding out in Abbottabad in Pakistan—the same town where Osama Bin Laden was eventually found and killed four months later. The head of Indonesia’s anti-terror agency said that fall that Patek had “helped lead authorities to bin Laden,” Al Jazeera reports.