Witnesses detail impact of Bali bombings

Khabar Southeast Asia
The attacks that killed 202 also dealt a massive blow to the region’s economy, Balinese officials said Thursday.
Testifying Thursday (April 12th) in the trial of accused Bali bomber Umar Patek, Balinese officials spoke of the impact the 2002 attacks had on the island’s tourism industry, while a forensic doctor recalled the horrific aftermath.
“At the very beginning, we could not identify the victims because many of them were damaged and could not be recognised anymore,” said the doctor, Ida Bagus Putu of Denspasar’s Sanglah Hospital.
“After three months of identification processes, we could identify 199 out of 202 people.”
The bodies had burns as well as wounds showing that objects had penetrated them at high speed, he said.
“Other than that, we also received 325 body parts from the victims, but we could not identify 140 body parts because they had become rotten,” he told the court.
Doctors were able to distinguish 78 women and 117 men among the victims, but others could not be identified by gender, the doctor testified.
The twin bombings on the night of October 12th, 2002 – one carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an explosives-laden vest, the other a massive car bomb detonated outside a crowded nightclub – are considered Indonesia’s worst-ever terror attack. According to Balinese officials who spoke during Thursday’s trial proceedings, they also increased poverty on the island by disrupting a vital sector in its economy.
“Compared to the hotel occupancy in October and November 2001 and 2002, the number dropped significantly [after the bombings]. The bomb attack was really an impoverishment process for Bali,” testified I Gusti Ngurah Oka Darmawan, the former head of the tourism department in Badung.
Eighty percent of district revenues come from the hotel and tourism industries, which also have an economic impact on surrounding localities, he said.
“It took us two years for recovery,” he added.
Ngurah Mas Wijaya Kusuma, an immigration officer from Ngurah Rai Airport, told the court that the bombings had significantly affected the number of tourists coming from abroad.
“According to our data, the number of foreign tourist dropped 70% compared to 2001. Before the attack, the number of foreign tourists stood at around 100,000 to 159,000 visiting Bali every month,” he said.
As of September 2002, the number stood at 153,000. But the figure dropped to 81,063 in October and 31,477 the following month, Ngurah said.
Patek, the defendant in Thursday’s proceedings, is the last Bali bombing suspect to go on trial and faces the death penalty if found guilty. His trial began in February and is expected to last four months.
The main actors in the bombings – Mukhlas, Amrozi and Imam Samudra – were convicted and executed in 2008.
Prosecutors on Thursday called to the stand two men convicted for their supporting roles in the attack, hoping to shed more light on how much Patek knew about the plot. He has acknowledged mixing the bombs but insists he was in the dark concerning the actual plans for their use.
One of the men, Sarjiyo, confirmed that he and Patek attended a military training camp in Pakistan, where they studied war strategy, bomb making, and mapping.
In September 2002, as Sarjiyo was busy mixing 700kg of explosive materials, he requested Patek’s help, the witness said.
Patek’s role in the bomb preparation was minimal and limited to the final stages, he explained.
“When Patek arrived, I was about to finish mixing the material and there were 50kg of explosive material left over. So I asked him to help me to finish it because I knew that Patek has similar knowledge,” Sarjiyo said.
The trial proceedings will resume on Monday

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