05/23/2012 Indonesia (AsiaNews) - An apparently contrite Umar Patek has admitted to his responsibilities, asking everyone for forgiveness, from the Christian community for the attacks against churches on Christmas in 2000 to the families of the victims of the Bali bombings in 2002, and the Indonesian government for faking documents and betraying the trust of his compatriots.
During his hearing before the Jakarta District Court on Monday, the mixed Arab-Javanese Muslim terrorist from Central Java known as 'demolition man' who was involved in several deadly attacks, acknowledged his errors and said he was ready to atone for them.
His request for forgiveness elicited different responses among ordinary Indonesians. Some believe in the sincerity of his words. Others are more inclined to think he is trying to obtain the judges' clemency to avoid life in prison or the death penalty.
"I personally ask for Christians' forgiveness for what I have done to them," Umar Patek al Hisyam bin Ali Zein said. "I am sorry for my misdeed."
After rejecting all charges against him, he eventually pleaded guilty, saying that his late admission of responsibility was due to "strong pressures" from extremist leader Dulmatin, his accomplice in crime who was killed by Indonesian Special Forces in March 2010.
'Demolition man' was arrested by Pakistani police in January 2011 in Abbottabad, the same town where al-Qaeda's founder and leader Osama bin Laden was killed. After long months of negotiations between Jakarta e Islamabad, he was handed him over to Indonesian authorities.
Speaking about the church attacks, he said he did not intend to kill innocent people because "they were not involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Many Indonesians hope the terrorist's request for a pardon may be heeded and that Patek may receive a pardon because his remorse is genuine.
Others see him instead as criminal genius and believe that his statement before the judges is just another attempt to escape justice or at least the maximum penalty under the law.