An Indonesian bomber has apologized to the families of the victims for making the explosives used in the 2002 Bali bombings.
Umar Patek was jailed for 20 years in 2012 after being found guilty of aiding and abetting the aid used to commit mass murders at two tourist bars on the island in 2002.
He was paroled last week after serving about half of his original sentence for the travesty that killed 202 people, mainly tourists, including 88 Australians.
He was a leading member of the al-Qaeda-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, which was blamed for the explosions at two nightclubs in Kuta Beach.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he said: “I apologize not only to the people in Bali in particular, but I also apologize to all Indonesian people.
“I also apologize especially to the Australians who also experienced a very big impact from the Bali bombings,” Patek said.
“I also apologize to the victims and their families at home and abroad, whatever their nationality, whatever their ethnicity, whatever their religion, I sincerely apologize to all of them.”
Patek was visiting former militant Ali Fauzi, a longtime friend who runs a scheme to deradicalize militants in East Java’s Tenggulun village.
Wearing a gray shirt and Javanese traditional headdress, he received a warm welcome from his old friends, some of whom were ex-convicts who had joined the scheme.
Indonesian authorities claim that Patek has successfully reformed in prison, adding that they are using him to influence other militants to turn away from terrorism.
However, he will still be supervised and must participate in a mentoring program until his parole ends on April 29, 2030.
Back in August, news of Patek’s impending early release sparked outrage in Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described him as “abhorrent”, and said his release would cause further distress to Australians who have experienced the trauma of the bombings.
88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and 23 Britons were among those killed when a suicide bomber detonated his device in Paddy’s Irish Bar on October 12, 2002.
Seconds later, as people fled into the street, a van with explosives was detonated at the nearby Sari Club.
Hundreds of people in the bustling Kuta area were badly burned in the attack, which overwhelmed local hospitals.
Patek was jailed after being on the run for nine years with a $1m reward on his head. He was finally captured in 2011 in the same Pakistani city where Osama bin Laden was killed – Abbottabad.
Three men were later executed for their part in the attack.