CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s government on Thursday said it was seeking assurances from Indonesia that the man convicted of making the bombs used in the 2002 Bali terrorist attacks would continue to be monitored after his release from prison.
Islamic militant Hisyam bin Alizein, also known as Umar Patek, was paroled Wednesday after serving about half of his original 20-year sentence, despite strong objections from Australia.
The attacks killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said it was a difficult day for those who lost loved ones in the bombings.
He told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that his government had advocated against Patek’s early release and would urge the Indonesian government to ensure he was under constant surveillance while on parole.
Indonesian authorities have said Patek, 55, was successfully reformed in prison and they will use him to influence other militants to turn away from terrorism.
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said it was a horrible day for the victims and their families.
“This is a person who was in the Indonesian justice system. My personal view is his actions are inexcusable and completely abhorrent,” O’Neil said at the National Press Club in Canberra. ”We don’t control the Indonesian justice system, and that is the way of the world.”
Bombing survivor Peter Hughes, who gave evidence at Patek’s trial, said he and other survivors were skeptical the bomber was a changed man.
“There is a history of people like him, they won’t stop. For him to be let out is laughable,” Hughes told the ABC.
Another survivor, Jan Laczynski, said he was shocked and appalled at Patek’s release.
“I still can’t understand how this person that created so much loss of life, and not just for 88 Australians — 202 people — could be walking free this morning,” he told Channel 9.
Lawmaker Chris Bowen said Patek’s release was concerning but the Australian government respected Indonesia’s legal system.
“Indonesians and Australians were killed by these terrible murders, Indonesians and Australians went through this terrible ordeal together,” he told the ABC.
Patek was a leading member of Jemaah Islamiah, which was blamed for the blasts at two nightclubs in Kuta Beach. He was found guilty by the West Jakarta District Court of helping build a car bomb that was detonated by another person outside the Sari Club in Kuta on the night of October 12, 2002.
Moments earlier, a smaller bomb in a backpack was detonated by a suicide bomber in the nearby Paddy’s Pub nightclub.