Fana Suparman & Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – High-profile terror convict Umar Patek was released on parole on Wednesday, 20 years after the twin bombings at Bali nightclubs that killed more than 200 people of mostly foreigners.
Umar was sentenced to 20 years in prison for being an accessory to the October 2002 Bali bombings that prompted the government to adopt its first anti-terrorism law carrying the death penalty.
There can't be worse timing for the news of his release because earlier in the day a suicide bomber blew himself up at a police station in Bandung, killing an officer and injuring seven others. Police confirmed that the bomber has been identified as an ex-terror convict who was released from prison last year.
But the Justice Ministry apparently was not affected by the latest terror attack.
"Hisyam bin Alizein aka Umar Patek was released today from the Surabaya's Class-1 Correctional Facility under a parole program," Rika Aprianti, a spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry's Correctional Directorate, said in a statement.
Rika said Umar is placed under state surveillance until April 29, 2030, and he can be imprisoned again if committed a crime during the probation period.
Umar, 56, was found guilty of taking part in the Bali attacks by conducting a survey on the ground before other militants picked their targets.
He fled justice after the bombings and was not prosecuted under Indonesian law until his extradition from Pakistan in August 2011.
While on the run, the US government put a $1 million bounty on his head. He was arrested in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad in March 2011.
Rika said the main reason for granting parole for Umar is because he has "completed the deradicalization program and pledged allegiance to the Republic of Indonesia".
His release was approved by the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and the National Police's antiterror squad Detachment 88, Rika said.
According to the law, an inmate can only be granted parole if he or she has served at least two-thirds of the term.
The fact that Umar has been under Indonesian custody for roughly eleven years since his extradition – not even two-thirds of his term – indicates that he has received many sentence cuts usually given during national holidays for good-behaving inmates.
That means his real term is far under 20 years so he met the parole requirement much earlier than what the judge said in his verdict.
Three years ago, the BNPT did another favor for him by helping his Philippine wife earn Indonesian citizenship.
Gina Gutierez Luceno alias Rukayah, who was born in the Philippines, received her citizenship documents at the prison where his husband was being held in November 2019.