Indonesia released on parole Umar Patek, the bomb maker in the deadly 2002 Bali attacks, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights said on Wednesday.
Patek, a member of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2012 after pleading guilty to mixing bombs that tore apart two Bali nightclubs, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians.
After his release on Wednesday, Patek must join a “mentorship program” by April 2030, according to the ministry statement. If a violation is discovered during this time, his parole will be revoked, the ministry added.
In August, the Indonesian government said 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 an 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 the deadly church bombings in 2000, received a series of small reductions in his sentence as part of pardons regularly given to prisoners to mark Indonesia’s independence day on August 17.
On Thursday, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said it would be a “difficult day” for Australians who had lost loved ones in the attacks.
“I think it will be a very difficult day for many Australians – all Australians – to hear about the release of Umar Patek,” Marles told ABC radio. “Right now I am thinking especially of the families of those who were killed and injured in the Bali bombings.”
Marls added that the Australian government would continue to engage Indonesian authorities to ensure that 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 heavily influenced by the teachings of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Patek eluded investigators probing 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 a few 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 Nurhasim and Ali Gufron – were executed in 2008. Patek was the last of the defendants to stand trial in Indonesia.
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