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Umar Patek being escorted at a district court in 2011
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had previously criticized the reducing of Patek's sentenceImage: Tatan Syuflana/AP Photo/picture alliance

Australia calls release of Bali bomber a 'difficult day'

December 8, 2022

One of the men behind the deadly Bali bombings has been released halfway through his 20-year sentence. Australia has called for him to kept under constant surveillance.


Australia on Thursday responded to the early release of the man imprisoned in Indonesia for his involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles described the situation as a "difficult day" for the families of the 88 Australian victims of the attack.

"I think this going to be a very difficult day for many Australians — all Australians — to hear about the release of Umar Patek," Marles told ABC radio. "I'm particularly thinking right now of the families of those who were killed and injured in the Bali bombings."

The attacker, Umar Patek, was released on parole on Wednesday, halfway through his 20-year sentence that began in 2012.

Survivors express skepticism

Canberra had protested against Patek's early release which he was granted for good behavior in prison.

The uproar in Australia pushed back his release, originally slated for August. While on parole, Patek will be required to take part in a "mentoring program" until 2030, but Australia has called for Indonesia to keep him under constant surveillance.

Lawmaker Chris Bowen also expressed concern over the early release but said he respected the independence of Indonesia's legal system and emphasized the importance of maintaining strong ties with Jakarta.

Indonesia's deradicalization efforts

One of the survivors who gave evidence in Patek's trial, Peter Hughes, told Australian broadcaster ABC that he was skeptical about Patek's alleged change of heart.

"There is a history of people like him, they won't stop. For him to be let out is laughable," Hughes said.

"I still can't understand how this person that created so much loss of life, and not just for 88 Australians — 202 people — could be walking free this morning," another survivor, Jan Laczynski, told Channel 9.

What was Patek convicted of?

Patek was one of the leading figures inside the al-Qaida-connected group Jemaah Islamiah which carried out the 2002 bombings.

The attackers targeted two nightclubs popular with foreign tourists on the island of Bali.

Patek himself was found guilty by the West Jakarta District Court of helping build a car bomb that was set off by another member of the group outside the Sari Club moments after a suicide bomber detonated a small bomb in the nearby Paddy's Pub nightclub.

Patek's release on Wednesday coincided with another suicide bomb attack on a police station in West Java carried out by a man who had also recently been released from prison after serving time for terrorism charges.

ab/msh (AP, Reuters)

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