Prosecutors seek life for Bali bombmaker | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 21.05.2012
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Prosecutors seek life for Bali bombmaker

Indonesian prosecutors have asked for a life sentence rather than the death penalty for Umar Patek, accused of making the bombs for the Bali attacks that killed over 200.

Originally, prosecutors had said they would seek the death penalty for the 45-year-old terrorist accused of assembling the bombs used in two attacks on nightclubs in Bali that killed 202 people, and for several coordinated attacks on churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve 2000.

However on Monday, Prosecutor Bambang Suharyadi told the West Jakarta District Court that he and his colleagues were seeking a lighter sentence than capital punishment because Umar Patek had been "polite and cooperative during the trial and regretted what he had done."

He also pointed out that Patek had been proved guilty of illegal weapons possession, helping and concealing terrorist acts, immigration violations and premeditated murder.

Umar Patek

Umar Patek is said to be intelligent and charismatic

"Because of him many innocent lives were lost. Others suffered physical disabilities and the loss of their livelihoods and dignity," he said.

'I regret what I have done'

On Monday, the Islamist terrorist repeated an apology that he had already made earlier this year. "I regret what I have done and I apologize to the families of the victims who died," he said. "Indonesians and foreigners."

In April, he had burst into tears in court and begged for forgiveness. He said he did not know the bombs would be used and denied playing an important role in the Bali attacks.

He also told the court that the Bali bombings had been considered an act of revenge for the death of Muslims in Palestine. "I asked the others: 'Why Bali? The attack should take place in Palestine.' But they said they didn't know how they could get to Palestine."

"I mixed the chemicals," he admitted. "Dr Azahari (a Malaysian terrorist who has since been killed) finished making the bomb and put it in the car. I stayed in my room and read the Koran."

They reportedly used simple household tools, including a rice ladle, which were housed in ordinary filing cabinets, to assemble the bombs.

A close relationship

Sidney Jones from International Crisis Group speculated the first apology in court might have been part of a deal with the police so that Umar Patek could see his wife again.

"When he was arrested in Pakistan, he was worried he would not be able to see his wife if he were sent back to Indonesia. He wanted to go home with her," she said.

Umar Patek and his wife Ruqayyah

Umar Patek and his wife Ruqayyah were shown in the media hugging in court earlier this year

In contrast to many jihadists, who lead polygamous lives, Umar Patek only has one wife and he is completely faithful, the analyst added, describing him as charismatic, intelligent and a fanatical jihadist.

Ruqayyah Husein Luceno, a Filipina Christian convert to Islam, met in 1998 at a base set up by the Filipino terrorist organization, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Umar Patek was already a leader and trainer in a training camp based in Torkham in the tribal area between Afghanistan and Pakistan at the time. He and other jihadists from the Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiah had set it up in 1994, after receiving weapons instruction and training in how to make bombs in Afghanistan.

After the Bali bombings, Umar Patek was labelled the most-wanted terror suspect in Indonesia. He spent years on the run and was eventually arrested in January 2011 in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad where Osama bin Laden was killed just a few months later. The Indonesian categorically denies meeting Bin Laden.

Three other JI members convicted for their role in the Bali bombings have already been executed. The verdict is expected on June 21.

Author: Andi Budiman / act
Editor: Shamil Shams

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