Umar Patek: Bali assassin released on parole in Indonesia after serving half of his 20-year sentence

Jakarta, Indonesia

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

Patek, a member of al-Qaeda-affiliated Jemaah Islamiyah, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2012 after being found guilty of mixing up bombs that ripped through two nightclubs in Bali, killing 202 people, including 88 Australian.

After his release on Wednesday, Patek will have to participate in a “mentoring program” until April 2030, according to the ministry statement. If a violation is found during that time, his probation will be revoked, the ministry added.

In August, the Indonesian government declared that Patek was eligible for parole after his sentence was reduced, a decision that drew criticism from the victims’ families. His planned 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 of his role in deadly church bombings in 2000, received a series of small sentence reductions as part of the waivers regularly granted to inmates to mark Indonesia’s August 17 Independence Day.

On Thursday, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said it was going to be a “difficult day” for Australians who lost loved ones and relatives in the attacks.

“I think this is going to be a very difficult day for many Australians – all Australians – to learn of Umar Patek’s release,” Marles told ABC radio. “I am thinking especially now of the families of those who were killed and injured in the Bali bombings.”

Marles added that the Australian government will continue to work with Indonesian authorities to ensure Patek is 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 heavily influenced by the teachings of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Patek eluded investigators investigating the 2002 attacks for many years until he was arrested in January 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the same village where US Navy SEALs shot bin Laden several months later.

Patek was then extradited to Indonesia, where he was convicted 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 defendants to stand trial in Indonesia.

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