Umar Patek, the last remaining Bali bomber, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the West Jakarta District Court on Thursday, receiving a much lower sentence than was demanded by prosecutors.
In a tightly guarded verdict reading, judges said that the court found convincing evidence that Patek, 45, a leading member of the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah network, was involved in the October 2002 Bali bombing attacks that killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.
He was also found guilty for his role in Christmas Eve bombings at churches throughout the country in 2000, said the five judges, who needed more than 11 hours to read the 273-page ruling.
Encep Yuliardi, the presiding judge said that “all evidence validly and convincingly” pointed to Patek’s involvement in the terrorist activities.
Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Patek, charging him with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in Bali bombings, terrorism and possession of firearms and explosives.
“The court orders to put him in jail immediately. His jail term will be reduced by his detention time since arrest,” Encep said, adding that mitigating factors sparing him from a life sentence included his repeated apologies to his victims and their families, as well as his show of remorse.
Patek, born Hisyam bin Ali Zein, denied all terrorism charges but accepted two charges of document fraud, related to his submission of false documents to obtain Indonesian passports for himself and his Filipina wife. Those charges carry a maximum sentence of seven years.
Clad in a white cotton robe and matching pants, the defendant was quiet when hearing the verdict. His lawyers said they would talk before deciding whether to file for an appeal against the verdict.
Patek, who was arrested last year in Pakistan in the same northwestern town where Osama bin Laden was killed several months later, was the last main suspect to be tried in the attacks. He has argued that he did not play a major part in building the car bomb, which was the biggest explosive used in the attacks.
Instead, he said bomb-making masterminds Azahari bin Husin and Dulmatin were in charge of that job. Both have since been killed in police raids.
Patek has apologized to the victims’ families, Christians and to the government, saying he was not in favor of going through with the attack against partying tourists, but that he could not speak out against other senior members of the group. The mission was supposedly meant to avenge Western policies in the Palestinian territories, but Patek has argued that he never saw the connection.
He said the life term that prosecutors were seeking was too heavy a penalty and asked for a lighter sentence.
Patek admitted to helping make the bombs but said he did not know how they would be used. Prosecutors argued that he helped assemble the suicide vests as well as detonating cords and boosters connected to the explosives.
He left Bali just before the attacks and spent nine years running from the law, traveling in the Philippines and Pakistan.
He had a $1 million bounty on his head and was considered one of Asia’s most wanted terror suspects when he was finally apprehended.
Since the 2002 Bali bombing, Indonesia has been rocked by other attacks, including a second bombing on the resort island in 2005 and others in Jakarta.