JAKARTA, Indonesia – An Indonesian accused of helping build the car bomb used in the 2002 Bali nightclub attacks said Thursday life imprisonment would be too heavy punishment for his crimes.
Umar Patek, a leading member of the al-Qaida-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, said media have portrayed him as someone with extraordinary role but that he did not commit terror activities in Indonesia except the Bali bombings.
"Now it is proven that I am just a little guy ... I am a deer, not an elephant," he said.
Patek is the last key suspect to be tried in the 2002 attacks and is accused of helping to build the car bomb used to kill 202 people on the popular resort island. Most of the victims were foreign tourists, including 88 Australians and seven Americans.
He said the bombs already were being assembled as he arrived in Bali and he just helped mix less than 50 kilograms of explosives.
State prosecutors have sought a life sentence for the 45-year-old militant known as the "Demolition Man," accused of illegal weapons possession, concealing terrorist acts, immigration violations and premeditated murder.
In his defense, Patek said prosecutors copied the indictment into the sentencing demand without considering testimonies of witnesses during the trial that began in February.
He insisted he was against the Bali bombings, which was aimed at avenging Western policies in the Palestinian territories.
"I gave a good proposal — using the money to send militant to the Palestine and Moro," said Patek in his 31-page defense plea.
Patek also denied any involvement in a terrorist training camp in Aceh province.
"I am ready to be beheaded in front of this court, if true that I was involved" in planning and procuring weapons for the camp.
Therefore, he asked the panel of judges to consider a lighter sentence.
"A life sentence is too heavy," he told reporters. "I hope to be sentenced in accordance with my portion."
Patek, who was arrested last year in Pakistan, again apologized to the victims, Christians, and those affected by the 2002 Bali bombings as well as the Indonesian government.
Prosecutors will respond to the defense plea next week.