Bali bombings mastermind Umar Patek paroled: Aussie survivor Peter Hughes slams early release

Aussie survivor slams Bali bomber mastermind’s early prison release and Indonesia’s ‘fanciful’ claim that the mass murderer is de-radicalised: ‘For him to be let out, it’s laughable’

  • Peter Hughes was inside Paddy’s Bar in Bali when it was destroyed in bomb blast 
  • One of the terrorist masterminds, Umar Patek, is being released from jail early 
  • Mr Hughes slammed claims Patek was ‘de-radicalised’ in prison as nonsense 

A survivor of the Bali bombings has slammed claims one of the masterminds of the horrific attack in 2002 is de-redicalised as ‘fanicful’ after he was released from prison 10 years early. 

Peter Hughes was with friends in Paddy’s Bar in Kuta’s party district on the night of October 12, 2002 when a bomb hidden in a backpack detonated inside the venue.

A car bomb outside the nearby Sari Club exploded seconds later followed by a third outside the US Embassy in Denpasar, with the three bombs killing 202 people including 88 Australians. 

Indonesian authorities announced on Wednesday that Umar Patek, 55, the main bombmaker for the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist cell, is to be released from prison after serving about half of his 20-year sentence. 

Peter Hughes (pictured) when he gave this interview to Channel Nine from a Bali hospital bed in 2002

He is now a motivational speaker

Peter Hughes (pictured) had burns to 50 per cent of his body when he gave this interview to Channel Nine from a Bali hospital bed in 2002. He is now a motivational speaker

Ministry of Law and Human Rights spokesperson Rika Aprianti told reporters he had completed ‘de-redicalisation coaching’ and earned reductions for good behaviour.

In the Indonesian justice system,  sentence reductions are given to some prisoners on major holidays, with Patek receiving more than 33 months of concessions. 

He must remain on parole until 2030, which includes reporting in person to a parole office once a week at first and then once a month, Ms Aprianti said. 

But Mr Hughes, who shocked the world when he spoke in a TV interview dazed and with a swollen face in the aftermath of the blast, said Patek would never be de-radicalised.

‘There’s no chance of him being turned around. This guy was a mastermind that set this up along with people like [Abu Bakar] Bashir and others,’ Mr Hughes told the ABC.

‘There’s a history of people like him. They won’t stop. For him to be let out, it’s laughable.’ 

Mr Hughes said while the Australian government can’t directly intervene in the Indonesian legal system, our leaders should formally protest the decision.

‘We could actually say something. I wouldn’t like it to be passive. I’d like it to be fairly heavy handed,’ he said.

Patek, who is also known as Hisyam bin Alizein was found guilty by the West Jakarta District Court of helping build the car bomb that was detonated by another person outside the Sari Club.

Convicted Muslim militant Umar Patek made the bombs in the 2002 Bali attack

Convicted Muslim militant Umar Patek made the bombs in the 2002 Bali attack

He spent nine years on the run after the attacks and was at one point one of the most wanted criminals in South East Asia. 

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said the news would be a ‘difficult day’ for Australians and families who lost loved ones in the Bali bombings.

He told ABC radio the government had advocated against Patek’s early release and would urge the Indonesian government to ensure he had ‘constant surveillance’ while on parole.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the development was concerning but the government respected Indonesia’s legal system.

He said it was important to keep dialogue open between the two nations.

‘Indonesians and Australians were killed by these terrible murders, Indonesians and Australians went through this terrible ordeal together,’ he told ABC News on Thursday.

Police officers inspect the ruins of Sari Nightclub after it was destroyed by a bomb blast in Kuta on October 13, 2002

Police officers inspect the ruins of Sari Nightclub after it was destroyed by a bomb blast in Kuta on October 13, 2002

‘Now we are dealing with the ramifications together, understanding and respecting that Indonesia has their own legal system … (which) does tend to lead to long sentences with early release.’

Indonesian authorities have said Patek was successfully reformed in prison and they will use him to influence other militants to turn away from terrorism.

But Mr Bowen said the government would continue to advocate for the Indonesian government to monitor Patek.

‘Through our embassies and consulates the Australian government makes all the necessary representations … to ensure all the … protections and measures will be put in place going forward as this man gets released,’ he said. 

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