Bali bomber released on parole after serving half of 20-year sentence

The content originally appeared on: CNN

Jakarta, Indonesia
CNN

Indonesia has released on parole Umar Patek, a bomb maker in the deadly 2002 Bali attacks, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights said on Wednesday.

Patek, a member of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, was jailed for 20 years in 2012 after he was found guilty of mixing bombs that ripped through two Bali nightclubs, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians.

After his release on Wednesday, Patek is required to join a “mentoring program” until April 2030, according to the ministry statement. If any violation is discovered during that time, his parole will be revoked, the ministry added.

In August, Indonesia’s government said that Patek was eligible for parole after his sentence was reduced, a decision that sparked criticism from the victims’ families. His scheduled release was delayed after uproar from Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also criticized the announcement at the time, saying he planned to raise the issue with Indonesia.

Patek, who was also convicted for his role in deadly church bombings in 2000, was granted a series of small reductions to his sentence as part of remissions regularly given to inmates to mark Indonesia’s August 17 independence day.

On Thursday, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said it would be a “difficult day” for Australians who lost loved ones and relatives in the attacks.

“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.”

Marles added that the Australian government would continue to engage Indonesian authorities about ensuring Patek was under constant surveillance.

Many members of the Jemaah Islamiyah group, like Patek, trained and fought in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the early 1990s and were deeply influenced by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s teachings.

Patek eluded investigators looking into the 2002 attacks for many years until his capture in January 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the same village where US Navy SEALs shot and killed bin Laden several months later.

Patek was then extradited to Indonesia, where he was sentenced in 2012.

Three of the masterminds of the Bali bombings – Imam Samudra, Amrozi bin Nurhasyim and Ali Ghufron – were executed in 2008. Patek was the last of the accused to stand trial in Indonesia.