Bali bomb maker apologizes to angry survivors and families

A bomb maker in Bali who killed more than 200 people 20 years ago issued an apology on Tuesday after his early release from prison sparked the ire of the Australian government, survivors and families of the dead.

Umar Patek also vowed to show his “loyalty” to Indonesia in his first comments after his release from prison.

Patek was a member of an al-Qaeda-linked group that detonated bombs at a bar and nightclub on the Indonesian resort island in 2002, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians, in Southeast Asia’s deadliest militant attack.

He was released from prison in the East Java city of Surabaya last week after serving half of his sentence, angering Canberra, victims’ families and survivors.

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Attack survivor Peter Hughes, an Australian who spoke at Patek’s trial in 2012, called it “ridiculous” that he was released.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called Patek “abominable” in August after Jakarta reduced his prison sentence.

Patek said it was “my duty to apologize for the rest of my life”.

“I apologize to all the victims. I also apologize to the Australians who suffered severe effects from the Bali bombing,” he told reporters in the East Java city of Lamongan.

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

Indonesian officials said he must attend a training program until 2030 and his probation will be revoked if he commits an offense during that period.

“I just have to show my commitment to the government and my loyalty to the country. I will show them through my actions,” Patek said when asked about his release.

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He was speaking at the offices of Lingkar Perdamaian, a foundation that helps ex-prisoners rejoin society that was set up by Ali Fauzi, a brother of three of the Bali bombers.

Indonesian authorities said they believe Patek, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2011, was rehabilitated in prison after completing a deradicalization program.

However, Australia has called for it to be closely monitored.

Patek said he wanted to de-radicalize other extremists.

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