Indonesia has reduced the jail term of convicted terrorist Umar Patek yet again, making way for his imminent release. Patek, is a Jemaah Islamiyah-affiliated terrorist who was arrested in Pakistan years after he made the bombs that killed more than 200 people in Indonesian Bali resort.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has criticized the Indonesian government for facilitating the release of the terrorist who was responsible for the death of 88 Australians.
Lenience on Terrorists
In its latest show of lenience for the convicted terrorist, Jakarta has knocked off five more months from the cumulative prison term for Patek. The latest largesse, which comes close to the 20th anniversary of the bombings, means the Bali bomber can walk out of prison within days if he is granted parole. As of now, Jakarta has given Patek nearly two years of sentence reduction. As per Indonesian laws, Patek is eligible for parole as of August 14.
"This will cause further distress to Australians who were the families of victims of the Bali bombings ... We lost 88 Australian lives in those bombings," Albanese said, according to Bloomberg News.
Calling Patek "abhorrent," Albanese said he will continue to make diplomatic representations to Indonesia about the dreaded criminal's early release.
"His actions were the actions of a terrorist ... They did have such dreadful results for Australian families that are ongoing, the trauma which is there," he told Channel 9.
Alabenese' Diplomatic Efforts will have no Effect
Going by the past experience, Alabenese' diplomatic efforts are highly unlikely to yield any result. Australia had vehemently campaigned against the execution of its nationals sentenced to capital punishment. However, Indonesia under current leader Joko Widodo executed two Australian citizens -- Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran -- in April 2015.
The drug smugglers known as 'Bali Nine' were caught trying to smuggle 8.3 kg of heroin out of Indonesia in April 2005. Among the nine Australians, two were sentenced to death under Indonesia's harsh anti-drug laws. Several of the remaining Australians, including some who were found to be drug mules and not ring leaders, are serving life terms in Indonesian prisons. A female prisoner was released in 2018 while another prison died of cancer.
The execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in 2015 had caused a tremendous escalation in the tensions between Australia and Indonesia. The Australian government had tried everything possible, sent several delegations and even offered to pay all expenses incurred in keeping the two in jail for life. However, Jakarta did not relent and the two were executed.
Tony Abbott, who was Australia's Prime Minister at that time, said the execution marked a "dark moment in the relationship" between the two countries.
The Bali Nine who were not awarded the death penalty were given a 20-year prison term initially. When they appealed the verdict, they were given the harsher sentence of life in jail.
Australia Released Bali Bombing Mastermind Last Year
In stark contrast, Jakarta once again reduced the prison term of Bali bomber Umar Patek, who was responsible for the death of 202 people, mostly foreign tourists in Bali. According to the Indonesian authorities, he was given the reduction for 'good behavior' to mark the country's Independence Day.
Jakarta's standards of 'good behavior' seem to be inexplicable. Photographs of the terrorist, taken at various stages after his capture and trial, show him beaming cheerfully.
In another shocking move, Indonesia released the master mind of the Bali bombing from prison last year. Controversial Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir who organised the dastardly attack, walked free from the prison in January 2021. He too was given clemency by Joko Widodo on grounds of 'good behavior'.
Indeed drugs are a menace and smuggling is a serious crime but killing 200 innocent holiday makers in a terror act looks like a lesser offense. The Australian prime minister is obviously wasting his time trying to convince his Indonesian counterpart about this paradox.