National

Prosecutors seek life for
Bali bombing suspect

Umar Patek: (AP)
Umar Patek: (AP)

Prosecutors said Monday that an Indonesian militant known as the "Demolition Man" should spend the rest of his life in prison for helping to build the car bomb used in the 2002 Bali nightclub attacks.

Umar Patek, a leading member of the al-Qaida-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, is the last key suspect to be tried in the blasts that killed 202 people, thrusting Indonesia onto the frontlines in the war on terror.

Many of the victims were foreign tourists, including 88 Australians and seven Americans.

Lead prosecutor Bambang Suharijadi told the West Jakarta District Court the 45-year-old militant should get a life term. He said Patek was guilty of illegal weapons possession, helping and concealing terrorist acts, immigration violations and premeditated murder leading to massive casualties.

A verdict is not expected until next month.

It's still possible, but unlikely, that judges will decide to hand down the maximum penalty of death by firing squad. Analysts, however, expect he will end up getting less than 20 years behind bars.

Patek, who was arrested last year in Pakistan, has denied playing a major role in assembling the massive car bomb that was the largest bomb used in the attack. He said that job fell to Jemaah Islamiyah bomb-making masterminds, Azahari bin Husin and Dulmatin, both of whom have since been killed in police raids.

The militant also insisted he was against the bombings from the start but didn't dare to speak out. They were in theory were meant to avenge Western policies in the Palestinian territories. Patek said he saw no connection between the original mission, fighting against the oppression of fellow Muslims, and the target, partying tourists.

Patek and his lawyers will respond to the prosecution's sentencing demand next week.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has been hit by a string of terrorist attacks since the Oct. 12, 2002, Bali bombings. But all have been far less deadly, thanks in part, security experts say, to a relentless crackdown on Jemaah Islamiyah that has largely decimated their ranks.

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