CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s leader said Friday that it was an outrage that Indonesia had commuted the jail sentence of the bomb maker in the Bali terror attack that killed 202 people — meaning the terrorist could be freed within days if he is granted of parole.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he had been told by Indonesian authorities that Umar Patek’s sentence had been reduced by another five months, bringing his total reduction to almost two years.
That means Patek could be released on parole before the 20th anniversary of the bombings in October.
“This will cause further distress to the Australian families of the victims of the Bali bombings,” Albanese told Channel 9. “We lost 88 Australian lives in those bombings.”
Albanese said he would continue to make “diplomatic representations” to Indonesia about Patek’s sentence and other issues, including the Australians currently imprisoned in Indonesia. Albanese described Patek as “disgusting.”
“His actions were the actions of a terrorist,” Albanese told Channel 9. “They’ve had terrible consequences for Australian families going on, the trauma that’s there.”
Indonesia often grants sentence reductions to prisoners on major holidays such as the country’s Independence Day, which is Wednesday.
Patek received a 5-month reduction on Independence Day for good behavior and could walk free this month from Porong Prison in East Java province if he gets parole, said Zaeroji, who heads the provincial office. for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights.
Zaeroji, who goes by one name, said Patek has the same rights as other prisoners and has met the legal requirements to get sentence reductions. “While in jail, his behavior is very good and he regrets his radical past that harmed the society and the country and he also promised to be a good citizen,” said Zaeroji.
Patek was arrested in Pakistan in 2011 and tried in Indonesia, where he was convicted in 2012. He was originally sentenced to 20 years in prison.
With his time served and sentence reductions, he became eligible for parole on Aug. 14. A decision is still pending from the Ministry of Law and Human Rights in Jakarta, Zaeroji said. If denied parole, he could remain in prison until 2029.
Patek was one of several men implicated in the attack, which is widely blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian militant group linked to al-Qaida. Most of those killed in the resort island bombing were foreign tourists.
Another accomplice, Ali Imron, was sentenced to life. Earlier this year, a third militant, Aris Sumarsono, whose real name is Arif Sunarso but better known as Zulkarnaen, was sentenced to 15 years after he was captured in 2020 after 18 years on the run.
Erik de Haart, a survivor of the bombings, said there was little the Australian government could do about Patek’s reduced sentence. He told Seven’s Sunrise that the time for that had passed.
“When you consider all the financial aid we’ve given (Indonesia) over the years, along with the disasters they’ve had, it seems like they keep covering our noses here,” de Haart said.