Umar Patek, on trial for his alleged role in Indonesia’s deadliest terror attack, said he was sorry “from the bottom of my heart”.
Speaking at his trial on Monday (May 7th), terror suspect Umar Patek made a dramatic apology to victims of the 2002 Bali bombing, saying he was sorry he had not reported the plot to police
“From the bottom of my heart, I sincerely apologise to all the victims, victim’s families, the Bali community, the Christian community in Jakarta, the Bali government and also the Indonesian government,” he said, his voice breaking with emotion.
Patek, 45, is alleged to have played a key role in building the car bomb that killed over 200 people at a nightclub in Bali’s Kuta area in October 2002. He faces terrorism charges that could bring him the death penalty should he be convicted.
“I was very sad and regret the incident happened, because I was against it from the start. I never agreed with their methods,” said the defendant, clad in a white shirt.
He told the West Jakarta District Court that the bombings were a total failure as far as he was concerned, and that he had objected to plans drawn up by the ringleader, Ali Ghufron, also known as Mukhlas.
“Mukhlas said that their intention was to enact revenge for the massacre of Muslims in Palestine, but they targeted the wrong people,” he said, adding that the Westerners and Indonesians killed by the bombings had no connection with the Palestinian issue.
Asked by presiding judge Encep Yuliadi why he did not report the plot to the police if he disagreed with it so strongly, the defendant said he was unable to leave the group and feared harassment if he turned them in.
“I could not leave because I did not have enough money to go back,” Patek said. “[Senior Jemaah Islamiyah militant] Dulmatin paid for my travel expenses and I only had Rp 10,000 (around $10) in my pocket as I had left my money with my wife before I went.”
“Apart from that, if I reported the plan to the police, there would be a great slander against me among the Muslim activists,” he added.
Patek was arrested in January 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan – the same city where bin Laden was hiding out at the time of his killing in May of last year. Although many have speculated that the Java native was hoping to meet the late al-Qaeda leader, Patek has denied knowing he was there.
During the course of his trial, two former associates testified that al-Qaeda sent the Bali bomb plotters as much as $30,000 – money which paid for the Mitsubishi used in the attack.
Patek insisted again Monday that he had never met bin Laden in person. While acknowledging that he helped mix the explosives, he insisted that his participation was minimal and occurred under duress.
“As [Bali plotter] Sawat knew that I was really against the idea, he said to me that it is better for me to do what they said because I was just a slave and I could not push them to change their plan,” Patek said.
“I think this is my destiny that I have been captured and I am ready to take all the responsibility for my involvement,” he told the court. “Once again, I apologise to all the victims and their families.”
“I also thank the Indonesian government for bringing my wife and me back to Indonesia so the legal process could be conducted here,” Patek said.
The trial proceedings will resume on May 21st.