It has been a decade since Bali lost its innocence. But the images of the scarred buildings and the pain felt by those who lost loved ones because of the terrible 2002 Bali bombs still remain.
After running from the law for nine years, Umar Patek, the last remaining Bali bomber, has been tried and found guilty of participating in the bombings. While his 20-year sentence is short of the life sentence demanded by prosecutors, Patek deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
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.
There can be no room for terrorists in our country and although Patek has shown remorse for his acts, he must face the full force of the law. The government and the anti-terrorism unit must be applauded for smashing the JI network.
Patek 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. His role, however, is undeniable and he must have known that the bombs he made would be used against innocent victims.
The Bali bombs not only took innocent lives, they destroyed the island’s economy as tourists stayed away from the holiday hotspot. Thousands of Balinese lost their livelihoods and struggled to feed their families for years.
Thankfully Bali is booming again and the tourists are back in record numbers. The island is constructing a new airport and traffic congestion has become the norm.
It is reassuring to see the island pick itself up from such a devastating attack. Credit must go to the Balinese for showing the spirit to rebuild their lives and their economy.