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Bali Bomber Released From Jail As 20th Anniversary Of Attack Approaches

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The release of bomb maker Umar Patek, from prison, has been described as ‘awful timing’ as the island and those affected across the world prepare for the 20th anniversary of the Bali Bombings. 

Patek, who was responsible for assembling the explosives used in the 2002 attacks, has been granted an early release just days before Indonesia’s Independence Day, and just a matter of months before the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

Umar Patek, whose real name is Hisyam bin Ali Zein, was part of the team of terrorists who were responsible for two bombs that went off inside Sari Club and on the road outside Paddy’s Irish Bar in Kuta, killing 202 and injuring hundreds more.

Patek narrowly avoided the death penalty and life sentence. He was given a lesser sentence after he cooperated with Indonesian anti-terrorism teams and issued an apology to the victims’ families.

He has been locked up in Porong prison in Surabaya and has been released this week after being granted remission of his sentence. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Jan Laczynski told reporters his feelings about the early release of Patek, as someone who lost five friends in the attack in October 2002.

He said ‘You would think all of those sentences that were given would be carried out in full…It was a ghastly crime and it’s ghastly that this is happening as we approach the 20th anniversary. This is awful timing’.

According to Zaeoji, the Head of the Indonesian Ministry of Law and Human Rights for East Java, Patek had been very well behaved during his time in prison, and this was taken into consideration for his early release. Patek has also pledged his allegiance to the State of Indonesia, over any terrorist organization he was previously affiliated with, including Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah. 

Patek had served two-thirds of his original sentence. His sentence had recently been reduced by a year and eleven months meaning he could apply for parole earlier than anticipated, which he did and was swiftly granted. 

Patek had been the focus of a serious manhunt after the bombing and was eventually found by the Pakistani authorities in Abbottabad in 2011. He had been referred to as the ‘Demolition Man’ as he was also responsible for assembling the explosives that were used in bomb attacks on churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve in 2000. These attacks killed 19 people and injured dozens more.

During his trial, he denied being the mastermind behind the bomb-making but did admit to having played a role in the construction and assembly of the bombs that were used in Jakarta and Bali. He was found guilty of murder and bomb-making. 

kuta memorial

Patek’s early release is largely due to his deradicalization and has become something of a poster boy for Indonesia’s anti-terrorism departments as a shinigng example of how deradicalizing prisoners works in the country. According to Adhe Bhakti, a researcher at Indonesia’s Centre for Radicalism and Deradicalisation Studies, Patek shows no signs of being any further threat to society and shows no risk of being dragged into extremism again. 

Bhakti said ‘I met his deradicalism mentor in the prison and he explained that Patek now has no problem attending the flag ceremony held on Independence Day, for instance…He’s no longer an intolerant person anymore.

The early release has been granted for Patek but there remain a few more examinations to be completed before he is formally released. Though it is looking certain that he will pass these tests. The assessments are focused on Patek’s risk of being targeted by extremists who seek revenge after the denunciation of his old views. 

The 20th anniversary of the Bali Bombings is a painful moment for hundreds of people across Indonesia, Australia, and around the world. Last week Stan TV released the first trailer for a new mini-series called Bali 2002. The mini-series will premier on 25th September and showcases the unsung heroes of the tragedy.

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Monday 22nd of August 2022

They can kill people for drugs but not mass murder?

What a backwards government... Almost like they support it...


Sunday 21st of August 2022

I'm an Australian expat and have been living here for almost 9 years. I was here for the 1st bombing, and one of my sons for the 2nd.

I grieve and empathise with all those tragically affected.

While Australians topped the death list I feel a little uncomfortable with what at times appears to be Australian 'ownership' of the event(s)

Balines and other Indonesians by far outnumber all in death and injury. Add that there were little or no social security services or other help for them. For a sustained period with the tourism drop many lost their jobs and had little or no means of support.

I can understand anger at Patek's release. But also realise he had fulfilled all requirements for parole/early release. He had served more than half the original sentence. In Australia alone, many people who have committed equally abhorrent crimes have been similarly released.

For those criticising Bali - none of those involved were Balinese


Wednesday 24th of August 2022

@Andrew, That infamous Australian, Brenton Tarrant, came close with his mass murder at 2 mosques in New Zealand


Tuesday 23rd of August 2022

@Andrew, what about indigenous Australians?


Monday 22nd of August 2022


No one is Australia has ever been involved in the mass murder of 202 people.


Monday 22nd of August 2022

@Shorty, i agree totally


Saturday 20th of August 2022

Never going to Indonesia ever, this is BS

Karen Shaw

Friday 19th of August 2022

I Think it is Disgusting All The Lives He Murdered There Are No Words To Describe How The Families Of The Victims Would Be Feeling 💔💔💔Tourist That Get Caught Trafficking Drugs Get Life Or Taking Out In The Middle Of The Night And Shot Don’t Get Me Wrong I Do Not Agree With Drug Trafficking I Hate Drugs

Deborah L Fortuna

Friday 19th of August 2022

@Karen Shaw, I was thinking exactly that. How many tourists have been shot over drugs, yet this individual was party to this horrific terrorist act and is released.


Friday 19th of August 2022

I was absolutely amazed/horrified to read that this sub-human is to be released earlier for a most heinous crime.... If any new sentence is to be changed if would be to add further imprisonment - may I say permanent imprisonment - no less could be a violation of all of human beings.....