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Bali bomb survivors furious after attacker’s prison sentence was reduced

#Bali #bomb #survivors #furious #attackers #prison #sentence #reduced

Nearly two decades after the Bali bombings left Thiolina Ferawati Marpaung with permanent eye injuries, news that one of the masterminds could be released early has caused fresh trauma.

Indonesia’s recent reduction in Umar Patek’s prison sentence – announced by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese last week and confirmed by AFP – means the bomber could be released on parole before the island celebrates the 20th anniversary of the attacks in October.

It’s an upsetting prospect for survivors of the attack that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

“It’s not that I don’t respect other people’s rights, but he hurt the survivors and families with his evil and inhuman acts,” Marpaung told AFP by phone from Denpasar, the resort island’s largest city.

The smell of smoke triggers vivid memories of the explosions, which threw broken glass into their eyes, Marpaung said.

Patek — a member of an al-Qaeda-affiliated group who was captured in the same Pakistani city where Osama bin Laden was killed — should remain jailed, she said.

“Please let him do what he deserves as a terror convict, not like a chicken thief who we can easily forgive,” said the 47-year-old.

But Indonesia says Patek is abandoning its extremist beliefs after completing a deradicalization program.

He was granted a reduced sentence on August 17 for serving two-thirds of his 20-year sentence and showing progress on reform, said Teguh Wibowo, spokesman for the East Java office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights.

“He has dutifully undergone a deradicalization program and is behaving well in prison,” Wibowo said, referring to Indonesia’s rehabilitation program designed to get terror convicts to give up extremism and pledge allegiance to the state.

The attacks on a nightclub and bar were the deadliest in Indonesian history and prompted a crackdown on extremism in the country, which has the world’s largest Muslim population.

Tied side by side to wooden poles on a small prison island, the attackers were executed by firing squad in 2008 after years of investigation.

– ‘contempt’ –

Patek was found to have manufactured the bombs used in the attack on Bali, a Hindu island popular with foreign tourists.

After nearly a decade on the run, he was caught with a $1 million bounty on his head.

Prosecutors sought a life sentence for the 52-year-old on first degree murder because he showed remorse during his 2012 trial.

Any release from prison must be approved by the Indonesian Ministry of Justice.

For survivors of the attack, the thought of him leaving prison and leading a normal life is hard to bear.

“Deep in my heart, I can’t accept it, but I’m trying,” said Chusnul Chotimah, another survivor who suffered severe burns that left scars on her face and body.

Australia was also upset at the news of Patek’s sentence reduction.

The country lost 88 of its citizens in the attacks, the most of the 21 countries whose nationals were killed.

Albanese said he had nothing but “contempt” and disgust for Patek’s actions and said his early release would only renew the distress and trauma for the victims’ grieving families.

But Chotimah met with Patek’s relatives and said she learned they too had suffered the tragedy he helped commemorate.

The 52-year-old is trying to make peace with what happened to her, despite news of Patek’s possible release ahead of the anniversary of the day that changed her life.

“The longer I hold the grudge, the more my heart aches,” she said.

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