JAKARTA, Indonesia – Prosecutors said Monday an Indonesian militant known as the "Demolition Man" should spend the rest of his life in prison for helping to build the car bomb used in the 2002 Bali nightclub attacks.
Umar Patek, a leading member of the al-Qaida-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, is the last key suspect to be tried in the blasts that killed 202 people, thrusting Indonesia onto the frontlines in the war on terror.
Many of the victims were foreign tourists, including 88 Australians and seven Americans.
Lead prosecutor Bambang Suharijadi told the West Jakarta District Court the 45-year-old militant should get a life term. He said Patek was guilty of illegal weapons possession, helping and concealing terrorist acts, immigration violations and premeditated murder.
"Because of him, many innocent lives were lost. Others suffered physical disabilities and the loss of their livelihoods and dignity," he said, adding Indonesia's economy also suffered, as did its reputation internationally as being a safe place to visit.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has been hit by a string of terrorist attacks targeting a restaurants, glitzy hotels and a Western embassy since the Oct. 12, 2002, attack. But all have been far less deadly, in part, security experts say, because a relentless crackdown on Jemaah Islamiyah has largely decimated its ranks.
Wearing a white robe, Patek, whose real name is Hisyam bin Alizein, sat quietly as he listened to prosecutors explain why they decided to push for life in prison and not the maximum penalty of death by firing squad.
Suharijadi said prosecutors took into consideration Patek's cooperative attitude during the trial, as well as expressions of remorse and apologies offered to both foreign and local victims and their families.
A verdict is not expected until next month and judges can ignore the recommendation. Some analysts expect a 20-year sentence, or less.
Patek, who was arrested last year in Pakistan, has denied playing a major role in assembling the massive car bomb that was the largest bomb used in the attack. He said that job fell to Jemaah Islamiyah bomb-making masterminds, Azahari bin Husin and Dulmatin, both of whom have since been killed in police raids.
The militant also insisted he was against the bombings from the start but didn't dare to speak out. They were meant, in theory, to avenge Western policies in the Palestinian territories. Patek said he saw no connection between the original mission, fighting against the oppression of fellow Muslims, and the target, partying tourists.
After Monday's hearing, he stopped quickly to talk to reporters, apologizing once again not to the victims, but also his government.
Patek and his lawyers will respond to the prosecution's sentencing demand next week.