Anger and confusion among Bali victims' families after Umar Patek sentenced to 20 years
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The prevailing atmosphere in Indonesia is one confusion, anger and calls for justice after a "disappointing" verdict failed to give victims and their family some shred of dignity and peace. This comes a day after Umar Patek, aka 'demolition man,' was handed down a 20-year sentence for his role in the 2002 Bali bombings that claimed the lives of more than 200 people, and for masterminding the Christmas church attacks two years earlier.
Legal experts and civil society leaders have blamed the public prosecutor for failing to convince the judges to impose life in prison. However, the overall impression is one of utter failure of the justice system. The only concrete reality is the discouragement of the relatives of the victims, deeply pained by the sentence.
Born in 1970 in Pekalongan Regency (District), central Java, Umar Patek (pictured) is an Indonesian of Arab descent.
He is considered the mastermind behind the 12 October 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, especially Australia. Hundreds of people were also wounded and maimed in the attack.
Bali resident Wayan Sudiana's wife died in the attack. "Teh brutal way" he lost his lifetime companion is still fresh in his mind.
When the sentence was read, he could not hide his disappointment for such a "lenient" sentence, less than what he expected.
The verdict by the West Jakarta District Court "is unfair," he told AsiaNews. It does not meet the "demand for justice" that came from Indonesian society during the trial.
He, like other relatives, would have preferred to have had the trial held on the island where the massacre took place. Under Indonesian law, the court where a crime is committed has jurisdiction. In Patek's case, the trial was held in the capital amid tight security.
Priyanto is also angry with the judge for his verdict. He survived the attack and was called to testify during the trial several times, bringing with him the anger and desire for justice of the victims and their families. For them, he expected a "tougher sentence, including the death penalty.
This did not happen. Now thoughts are for the wounded and all those who "suffered in their bodies" and cannot "earn a decent living."
What makes the victims and their relatives angrier is the sense that the terrorist's request for forgiveness a few weeks ago was a charade, designed only to get the sympathy of the judges and, during the sentencing phase, the clemency of the court.
Head of the group that carried out the first Bali attack (2002), Patek was also responsible for various attacks against churches. He was seen as a top operative within Jemaah Islamiyah who built ties with al Qaeda.
As bomb expert, the Indonesian terrorist is thought to have trained two other prominent Malaysian Islamic terrorist: Azahari and Noordin Moh Top. The latter died in a police raid.
Before Bali, he is thought to have cooperate with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the southern Philippines.
Known for his many pseudonyms (Umar Kecil, Pak Taek, Abu Syekh, Zacky), 'demolition man" was arrested in January 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the same place where al Qaeda's leader and founder Osama bin Laden was killed.
After months of drawn out negotiations between Jakarta and Islamabad, he was handed over to Indonesian authorities.
At the trial, Patek claimed that in the attacks against churches he did not intend to kill "innocent" victims "unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".
Umar Patek's lawyers said that they have not yet decided whether to accept the 20-year sentence or launch an appeal to have it reduced.