The recent news that Bali bombmaker Umar Patek was being let out of prison early was bad enough — but now an extraordinary on camera interview has emerged of him laughing with the prison governor as he discusses the devastating terror attack.
Patek was filmed walking through the jail grounds at Porong in East Java, chatting with the governor, both men smiling and laughing as Patek casually discusses his role in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.
The governor introduces Patek before they discuss how he has put his life back together, including the friendships he’s made behind bars.
“This morning I joined our brother Umar Patek, our friend in Block F,” the governor says at the start of the 20-minute video.
“Today we are going to talk to him about, who exactly is Umar Patek? Many do not know. Maybe there are a lot of ladies out there who want to know?”
What they should know is Patek — real name Hisyam bin Ali Zein — was a senior member of Jemaah Islamiah, the Al Qaida-linked terror group behind the Bali bombings.
He was spared the death penalty but jailed for 20 years for his part in the terrorist attack. He was recently given his 11th remission since being locked up in 2014 and is likely to walk free any day, just weeks away from the 20th anniversary of the October 12 bombings.
In the prison interview, posted on Porong Prison’s official YouTube account, Patek claims he disagreed with the terror plot but went along with it because the plan was too advanced.
“My mistake was to be involved with the Bali bombing,” he says.
“When I know that all intentions were to execute the bomb, I stated I didn’t want to do that.
“Everything was ready, the bomb was about 950 kilos. Ready.”
Throughout the video, he is painted as a poster boy for prison reform.
Patek, now 52, tells Governor Panjang he wants to work with young convicted terrorists once he is released to help stamp out radicalism in Indonesia. This vision will be disturbing for survivors and the families of those who were killed by his actions.
Earlier this month, West Australians impacted by Patek’s actions expressed their anger and disbelief that he would walk free so close to the anniversary.
They included the Kingsley Football Club in Perth, which lost seven players in the blast.
Speaking shortly after the news broke, the club’s former captain Phil Britten, who was lucky to survive, said he was appalled by the decision.
“It’s disgusting how it has to happen now, it’s terrible,” he said. “We are victims again, victims of the Indonesian justice system, it never goes away.”
It never does go away for the victims of this atrocity and to see the man who built the bombs that destroyed so many lives laughing as he prepares to walk free — after serving less than half of his sentence — calls into question the Indonesian justice system.
Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by WAN Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie