An Indonesian bomb maker convicted for his role in the deadly 2002 Bali nightclub attacks has apologized to the victims’ families, after his release from prison was met with outrage in Australia.
Umar Patek, a member of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group, was jailed for 20 years in 2012 after he was found guilty of making bombs that ripped through two Bali nightclubs, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians and 38 Indonesians. He was released on parole last week.
“I apologize to the victims and their families, both at home and abroad, whatever their country, whatever their ethnicity, whatever their religion,” Patek said in an interview on Tuesday at a de-radicalization center in East Java province.
“I apologize to the Australian people who have been deeply impacted by the Bali bombing,” he added.
Patek also said he would help the Indonesian government in its counter-terrorism efforts, adding he was “ready to become an ambassador for peace.”
Patek will be required to participate in a “mentoring program” until April 2030, and any violation could see his parole revoked, said Indonesia’s justice ministry.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, has pioneered a de-radicalization program alongside security crackdowns as part of its efforts to counter a resurgence in Islamic militancy.
Patek’s release has sparked anger in Australia.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said soon after he was freed that it was a “difficult day” for Australians who lost loved ones and relatives in the attacks.
Paul Vanni, community and partnerships officer at Sydney’s Coogee Dolphins rugby team, which lost six members in the Bali attacks, dismissed the apology.
“Words mean nothing. It’s a complete slap in the face. He’s an assassin, a murderer,” said Vanni.
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