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Bali bomber Umar Patek released on eve of anniversary

The man who built the bomb which killed 202 people — including 88 Australians — when it obliterated a Bali nightclub is set to walk free from prison within days.

Umar Patek — real name Hisyam bin Ali Zein — was spared the death penalty but caged for 20 years for his part in the 2002 atrocity.

But just weeks away from the 20th anniversary of the bombing, it was revealed in Indonesia that Patek had been handed his 11th remission since being locked up in 2014.

Umar Patek — real name Hisyam bin Ali Zein — was spared the death penalty but caged for 20 years for his part in the 2002 atrocity.
Camera IconUmar Patek — real name Hisyam bin Ali Zein — was spared the death penalty but caged for 20 years for his part in the 2002 atrocity. Credit: Firdia Lisnawati/AP

The five-month clemency brings his release date from January to August. And that means he could walk free from the Porong prison near Surabaya by the end of the month.

The timing of the release is likely to be mortifying to the survivors of the blast, and the families of those that perished.

They included the Kingsley Football Club in northern Perth, who lost seven players in the blast. The total loss remains the single largest loss of Australian life from an act of terrorism.

Kingsley Football Club in northern Perth, lost seven players in the blast.
Camera IconKingsley Football Club in northern Perth, lost seven players in the blast. Credit: Rod Taylor/WA News

WA survivors Peter Hughes and Gary Nash were standing next to each other when the bomb at Paddy’s was detonated, fighting unimaginable odds to survive.

Mr Hughes, who suffered burns to 50 per cent of his body, was shocked to learn the “mastermind” would walk free.

“With the 20th anniversary coming up it’s a slap in the face to all the people who lost loved ones,” he said.

Peter Hughes suffered burns to 50 per cent of his body.
Camera IconPeter Hughes suffered burns to 50 per cent of his body. Credit: Mal Fairclough/WA News

“He should have got the death penalty, I was in the court room in Jakarta giving a victim impact statement and the only reason he got off was because he dobbed in his mates.”

Indonesian reports quoted Patek as saying he now wanted to help the government prevent radicalisation.

“God willing I can gather with my family again,” he said. “In my opinion radicalism still exists. It can be anywhere in any region or country. Because the roots are still there.”

 Bali bombing survivor Peter Hughes  was shocked to learn the bomb maker would walk free.
Camera Icon Bali bombing survivor Peter Hughes was shocked to learn the bomb maker would walk free. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

Patek’s roots in terrorism were ingrained in Jemaah Islamiyah, the Indonesia-based militant group connected to al-Qaeda.

His expertise with explosives saw him dubbed “Demolition Man” while he was on the run. His prolonged evasion of capture prompted the US to offer a $1m reward for his arrest.

He was eventually found in 2011 in the Pakistan city of Abbottabad — the same place where just months later US Special Forces found and and killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks.

Patek was convicted of a central role in the 2002 attacks as long with three other bombings, which also targeted churches on Christmas Eve, 2000.

A co-accused told a court he drove a car while Patek assembled bombs — disguised as gifts — in the back seat.

Page from The West Australian after the bombings.
Camera IconPage from The West Australian after the bombings. Credit: MTXOUTPUT3/WA News

Patek’s release follows that of the suspected mastermind of the attacks, radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who walked free from prison last January.

Bashir, who was Jemaah Islamiyah’s spiritual leader, was jailed in 2005 for conspiracy over the attacks but his conviction was quashed on appeal. Then in 2011 he was jailed for 15 years for his links to militant training camps.

In a statement following that release, then Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia had always called for those involved in the Bali bombings to “face tough, proportionate and just sentences”.

“Our embassy in Jakarta has made clear our concerns that such individuals be prevented from further inciting others to carry out future attacks against innocent civilians.”

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