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Indonesian prosecutors seek life sentence for Umar Patek
JAKARTA: Indonesian prosecutors today asked for a life sentence rather than the death penalty for Umar Patek, the bombmaker accused of being behind attacks on the island of Bali that killed 202 people.
When the trial started in February prosecutors had said they would seek capital punishment for Patek, who was held last year in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, four months before Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed there.
Prosecutor Bambang Suharyadi told the West Jakarta District Court that Patek had been proved guilty of premeditated murder, but they were seeking a lighter sentence because he had been remorseful and cooperative.
“We the prosecutors recommend... the defendant Umar Patek be given a life sentence,” Suharyadi told the court. “He has been polite and cooperative during the trial and regretted what he has done.” Patek, 45, is accused of assembling bombs for the attacks on two nightclubs on the resort island on October 12, 2002 which killed many Western tourists, including 88 Australians, and on churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve 2000.
Patek today repeated an apology he made earlier this month to the relatives of the dead.
“I regret what I have done... (and) I apologise to the families of victims who died — Indonesians and foreigners,” he said.
Patek is accused of being the expert bombmaker for Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a Southeast Asian terror network linked to Al-Qaeda.
He denies he led the bombmaking for the Bali attacks, admitting to playing only a small role. He confessed to mixing the chemicals for the explosives, but claimed he did not know how the bombs would be used.
Patek allegedly used simple household tools including a rice ladle to assemble the Bali bombs, which according to the court indictment were housed in ordinary filing cabinets.
He was arrested in Abbottabad in January last year. Evidence in the trial suggested bin Laden gave JI $30,000 to wage jihad in the region and Patek might have met him in the Pakistani town — a claim he has repeatedly denied.
Patek was once the most-wanted terror suspect in Indonesia and spent nearly a decade on the run, with the US offering a US$1 million bounty on his head under its rewards for justice programme.
Dubbed “Demolition Man” by local media for his bombmaking prowess, Patek is charged with premeditated murder. The verdict is expected June 21.
Three JI members — Mukhlas, Amrozi and Imam Samudra — were executed by firing squad in November 2008 for their roles in the attacks. -- AFP