JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com - The last surviving bomber in the Bali blasts that killed more than 200 people two decades ago has expressed regret for the deadliest terror attack in Southeast Asia ahead of its 20th anniversary on Wednesday, Oct. 12, but victims have rejected his apology.
"I will regret it until I die. And I will apologize until I die," he told AFP uncuffed in front of an Indonesian flag and a picture of President Joko Widodo at Jakarta's sprawling metro police headquarters.
But victims and the Australian government have refused to accept the remorse of the remaining members of the Bali bomb cell.
"When people are in a bind they will say anything to get out of the problem," said Thiolina Marpaung, a 47-year-old survivor left with permanent eye injuries.
"He said that because he was sentenced to life."
Imron helped mastermind the bombings. He built the devices, planted a bomb outside the US consulate in Bali, and trained the attackers who detonated a suicide vest and a van loaded with explosives.
The 52-year-old is the only living Bali bomber still alive after the attack.
Now he languishes in a drug offenders' facility, instead of prison, after claiming repentance and aiding Indonesia's deradicalization efforts.
His brothers Amrozi and Mukhlas were executed by firing squad on a central Javan prison island.
But Imron was saved from execution after showing remorse and divulging the plot to investigators.
The convicted mass murderer now helps the Indonesian government in a deradicalization program experts criticize for ineffectiveness.
Justice cut short
Indonesia in August approved parole for Bali bombmaker Umar Patek. After his capture in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in 2011, he claims to have rehabilitated after serving half of his 20-year sentence.