JAKARTA (Reuters) - A court in Jakarta sentenced a man who made bombs that killed 202 people at Bali nightclubs in 2002 to 20 years in jail on Thursday, the final trial of those responsible for Indonesia’s worst militant attack.
Umar Patek, 45, was captured in the same Pakistan town where U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden, and security officials say he belonged to the banned Jemaah Islamiah group linked to al Qaeda.
He was found guilty on all six charges at a court surrounded by snipers and bomb defusal experts.
After the bombings, security forces detained nearly 600 militants, most of whom have been jailed. Three main perpetrators of the bombings were convicted and executed by firing squad in 2008.
Aside from his role in the Bali bombings, Patek also mixed chemicals for 13 bombs that detonated in five churches in the Indonesian capital on Christmas Eve in 2000 and killed about 15 people.
The Bali bombs were a watershed for Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, forcing the secular state to confront the presence of violent militants.
It has since been largely successful in containing militant attacks and there have been no large-scale attacks on Western targets since 2009 when suicide bombers blew themselves up in two Jakarta hotels, killing nine people and wounding 53.
Patek wore a white tunic and ankle length trousers and after the verdict he walked to the judges table at the front of the packed courtroom and shook their hands.
“The legal team and the defendant are very disappointed,” said Asludin Hadjani, Patek’s lawyer. He said that his client would consult with family before deciding whether to appeal.
“The action (his role in the bombings) was forced, due to psychological pressures from the closest people and his seniors. And he had tried to prevent the criminal action, particularly on the execution of Bali bombing and Christmas bombing,” he said.
Prosecutors said during the trial that Patek, who was also wanted in the United States, the Philippines and Australia, went to a training camp in Pakistan for Afghan militants in 1991.
He built the Bali bombs from 700 kg (1,540 lbs) of potassium chlorate, sulfur and aluminum powder and stuffed them in four plastic filing cabinets. He also helped man make electronic devices to link the four filing cabinets, prosecutors said.
The nightclubs on Bali, Indonesia’s top holiday destination, were packed with Australian tourists. After the bombing Patek fled, living in the Philippines with groups including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf group, prosecutors said.
During that period, he visited Indonesia to help a group associated with Jemaah Islamiah to set up a paramilitary training camp in Aceh province.
Analysts say the threat from militants has diminished, though the government of President Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono has been criticized for doing little to curb religious intolerance that has become increasingly common in the diverse country.
Writing by Neil Chatterjee; Editing by Matthew Bigg and Louise Ireland