When Andrew Csabi walked in to the Sari Club in Bali on October 12 in 2002, he was handed a life sentence.
But in a matter of days, the man alleged to have masterminded the bombings that killed Mr Csabi’s friends and left the Gold Coast man a double amputee will walk free from jail.
“It’s unfair, it’s unjust. I’m a little bit outraged really,” Mr Csabi told AAP.
“I’m a double amputee, so I received a life sentence.
“The people that were mass murdered received a life sentence … and he now is going to be released from jail.”
Geelong Bali bombing survivor Therese Fox says the impending release of Islamic terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir would be traumatic for victims who never got justice for the 2002 blasts. https://t.co/jyitFkAVQk
— Geelong Advertiser (@geelongaddy) January 5, 2021
Bashir will be released “in accordance with the expiration date and the end of his term,” a spokeswoman for the law and human rights ministry said in a statement on Monday.
He was jailed in 2011 for his links to militant training camps in Aceh province.
Bashir has denied any involvement in the Bali bombings, but is considered by some to be the spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiah network.
Its members are accused of orchestrating the 2002 bombings of Bali nightclubs, which killed more than 200 people, among them 88 Australians, and an attack on the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people a year later.
“We wouldn’t let Martin Bryant and those sorts of people out, so I do not understand the Indonesian position,” Mr Csabi said.
“You’re going to let somebody who incited mass murder, you’re going to let that person out?”
“It doesn’t make sense to me.”
We strongly condemn the release of Abu Bakar Bashir, suspected of mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings. It is an insult to the 202 killed and 209 wounded in the attack.
His release from prison sends a dangerous signal to other extremists in Indonesia.https://t.co/YJezGcOqao
— AJC Asia (@AJC_Asia) January 5, 2021
Bashir is now 82, but Mr Csabi says his age is no barrier and Bashir has the means to incite hatred again.
“I couldn’t be convinced as a survivor that he would not turn back to his trade.”
“Some of the survivors, we talk each week still and we’re friends… and we all have the same opinion.
“We do not want him released.”
Albert Talarico agrees the consensus among survivors and victims’ families is that he should not be released.
Mr Talarico was a waterboy at the Coogee Dolphins Football Club, but found himself thrust into the position of president of the rugby league club in Sydney’s east when the blast killed the then president.
Eleven players had travelled to Bali to celebrate the end of the season. Only five came home.
The security risks of releasing Bashir aside, Mr Talarico says his release will set back the healing of those who were injured or lost loved ones.
“Everyone walked away with a scar … and when these things happen, those scars and those memories come back, and it just makes it harder for them to try and take that next step forward,” Mr Talarico said.
“I feel frustrated and angry, and I think that’s the general consensus.”
Both men said they’d like to see Bashir die in jail.
“The punishment did not fit the crime,” Mr Talarico said.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Tuesday said the Australian embassy in Jakarta had made clear Australia’s concerns that those responsible for bombings in 2002 and 2005 be stopped from inciting others to carry out attacks.
She said Australian law enforcement and security agencies had confidence in Indonesia’s counter-terrorism capabilities, but she understood the news would be distressing for families and friends of the Australians who had died or been injured.