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Indonesian Court Sentences Bali Bomber to 20 Years

  • VOA News
  • Kate Lamb

Indonesian militant Umar Patek enters the courtroom for his hearing at West Jakarta district court in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 21, 2012.

Indonesian militant Umar Patek enters the courtroom for his hearing at West Jakarta district court in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 21, 2012.

An Indonesian court has sentenced bomb maker Umar Patek to 20 years in prison. The last of the Bali bombers to face trial, the ruling brings a decade-long investigation to a close.

West Jakarta District Court today found Umar Patek guilty of mixing the 700-kilogram bomb that decimated two Bali nightclubs in 2002.

The attack killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

Sentenced to 20 years in prison, the 45-year-old al-Qaida-linked bomb maker was also charged for his role in the bombing of several churches in Jakarta in the year 2000.

Prosecutors had asked the court that Patek serve a life sentence.

A member of the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah and one of Indonesia's first-generation jihadists, Patek is well known among Islamic extremists.

But throughout the trial, Patek had claimed that he only played a minor role in the fatal Bali bombing.

Analysts said that judges gave Patek a more lenient sentence than the other Bali bombers because he cooperated with police and was publicly remorseful, including publicly apologizing to the victims’ families.

Speaking before the sentencing Thursday, terrorism expert Noor Huda Ismail said there was a high probability of a trade off.

“I think there is a deal between him and the police, Patek might say I will leak you a lot of information about my networks in Southeast Asia or on the region, but make sure I will get less than 20 years," said Noor Huda Ismail. "Because once you get the 20 years you get the cut.”

Patek is the last major Indonesian terrorist to face court.

Despite a $1 million bounty on his head, the 45-year-old had been on the run for nine years until he was extradited from Pakistan last January.

He was discovered in Abbottabad, the same town where Osama bin Laden was killed several months later.

The three masterminds of the Bali bombing were executed in 2008, a second bomb maker was shot and killed by police in 2010, and two others are serving life sentences.

Indonesian citizen Hambali, accused of plotting the Bali attack, has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2006.

With the most notorious Indonesian terrorists dead or behind bars, analysts say the most significant terrorism threats in the country today are from small, splinter jihadist groups.

Damien Kingsbury, an Indonesian analyst at Australia's Deakin University, says the trial of Patek - the last key suspect to be tried in the Bali attacks - could represent the symbolic end of Jemaah Islamiyah.

"The trial of Umar Patek essentially finishes the trials, or the captures or the killings, of the Bali bombers," said Kingsbury. "So this really puts an end to this particular saga, and it really spells an end to an era in which Jemaah Islamiyah, the noted Islamic terror organization, was active."

The Bali attacks and a string of others aimed at foreigners in Indonesia over the past decade have been blamed on members of Jemaah Islamiyah, which advocated creating an Islamic state spanning much of Southeast Asia.