Scores of police surrounded a Jakarta courthouse as an Indonesian militant accused of helping to build a massive car bomb used in the deadly 2002 Bali nightclub attacks was sentenced to 20 years in prison yesterday.
Known as “Demolition Man,” Umar Patek is a leading member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah. He was found guilty by the West Jakarta District Court of violating the country’s harsh anti-terror laws.
In the ruling, the five-member panel of judges also convicted 45-year-old Patek for his role in the Jakarta church attacks on Christmas Eve in 2000 that killed 19.
Patek is the last main suspect in the Oct. 12, 2002, Bali attacks that killed 202 people, including Taiwanese Eve Kuo (郭惠敏), 24, and four members of a Taipei-based rugby club — Australian James Hardman, 28; Englishman Daniel Braden, 28; and Godfrey Fitz, 39, and Craig Harty, 35, both of South Africa.
Patek can appeal the ruling to a higher court.
Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Patek.
More than 240 police, including a team of snipers, were deployed in and around the court building for the last session of Patek’s trial, which began in February. Several sharp shooters were seen atop nearby buildings.
Judges took turns reading lengthy documents summing up the trial ahead of the verdict. Except for a few relatives, the courtroom was packed mostly by reporters, photographers and cameramen, rather than the defendant’s supporters. His Filipino wife, Ruqayyah binti Husein Luceno, 28, was sentenced in January to 27 months in jail for immigration violations.
Patek, who was arrested last year in Pakistan in the same northwestern town where Osama bin Laden was killed several months later, was the last main suspect to be tried in the attacks.
He had argued that he did not play a major part in building the car bomb, which was the biggest explosive used in the attacks. Instead, he said bomb-making masterminds Azahari bin Husin and Dulmatin were in charge of that job. Both have since died in police raids.
Patek, whose real name is Hisyam bin Alizein, has apologized to the victims’ families, Christians and to the government, saying he was not in favor of going through with the attack against partying tourists, but he could not speak out against senior members of the group.
The mission was supposedly meant to avenge Western policies in the Palestinian territories, but Patek has argued that he never saw the connection.
On Oct. 12, 2002, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a nightclub jammed with tourists at popular Kuta beach, killing many instantly and forcing others to run outside. Another suicide bomber detonated a massive bomb loaded in a car parked on the street in front of two clubs.
Patek has admitted he helped make the bombs, but said he did not know how they would be used. Prosecutors argued he helped assemble the suicide vests, as well as detonating cords and boosters connected to the explosives.
He left Bali just before the attacks and spent nine years running from the law. He had a US$1 million bounty on his head.
Additional reporting by staff writer