Bali bombing victims urge harsh sentences for Malaysian men for ‘savage destruction of life’

Bali bombing victims on Wednesday shared harrowing accounts of how their lives had changed, as they read their impact statements in Guantanamo Bay’s military court ahead of the sentencing of two Malaysians who have admitted to playing a role in the attacks.

Mohammed Farik bin Amin, 48, and Mohammed Nazir bin Lep, 47, last week pleaded guilty to a range of charges, including murder and conspiracy, linked to the blasts in Bali’s Kuta nightlife district which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and seven US nationals on October 12, 2002.

Perth resident Phil Britten, 43, recounted how his first holiday abroad turned into horror when seven of the 19 friends he had been travelling with were killed.

“I was the captain of the Kingsley Football Club, and we were all celebrating the end of a successful season of Australian Rules Football,” he said in his statement. “It was to be the trip of a lifetime. But for many of us, it ended up being the trip that either ended or forever changed our lives.”

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Hambali, accused mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombing. Photo: Handout

Britten, then 22, was inside the Sari Club when a one-tonne bomb hidden in a van went off in front of the establishment. A suicide bomber also attacked the adjacent Paddy’s Pub , while a third explosion took place outside the US consulate in the nearby Renon district.

The attacks were orchestrated by the Indonesian hardline Islamist group Jemaah Islamiah. Farik and Nazir were arrested in Thailand in 2003, along with Indonesian national Encep Nurjaman, the accused mastermind also known as Hambali and who remains detained at Guantanamo Bay.

One of the bombers, Ali Imron, is serving a life sentence in Indonesia, while three men who helped carry out the attacks, Imam Samudra, Amrozi and Ali Ghufron, were executed in 2008 in the country.

Bali bomber eyes pardon to continue anti-terror work, ‘tired’ after jail time

“After crawling out of the burning ruins and across a roof, I was taken to hospital by a family who found me, running in the middle of a road with skin hanging off my body in strips,” Britten said in his statement.

“But the hospital was by no means a place where I could survive as it was overwhelmed by the scale of those burned, dying, [with] missing limbs and bleeding out.”

Britten said he experienced burns to 60 per cent of his body and underwent multiple skin grafts and back operations. His rehabilitation took years, during which he had to wear full-length burn pressure garments and follow a regimen of “excruciating” physiotherapy.

“Mentally and emotionally, I wanted my life to end for years. It took all the strength that I had to physically survive, and then afterwards, it was a struggle to move beyond the trauma and nightmare of the ruins my life had been left in,” he added.

I ask the judge to place the full and maximum sentence possible to these two terrorists, who, by their own admission, participated in the most savage destruction of life possible
Phil Britten

Britten urged the judge to punish Farik and Nazir to the fullest extent of the law.

Terrorism has plagued the world … for far too long. It is borderless, nationless and, far too often, faceless. Those who pave the way for others to take up the never-ending cause of violent extremism must be held accountable for their own actions; their sentence a reflection of their crime in order for justice to truly be done.

“I ask the judge to place the full and maximum sentence possible to these two terrorists, who, by their own admission, participated in the most savage destruction of life possible,” Britten said.

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Tourists offer flowers in Kuta on October 13, 2002, to mourn the victims of the Bali bombing. Photo: AFP

Jan Laczynski, an Australian who lost five Indonesian friends in the bombing, also called on the judge to give the Malaysian men a harsh sentence.

Laczynski had been at the Sari Club the day before the bombing and left Bali the night of the attack, which he described as “the worst peacetime loss of Australian lives”.

“Please do not discount the memories of these victims by letting these people off with inappropriately light sentences. Please show these men exactly the same mercy they chose to show to 202 people, including 88 Australians and my five friends,” he wrote in his statement.

On Tuesday, the judge presiding over the case, Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Braun, ruled that victim-impact statements submitted by those who could not attend the court session would be provided to the jury while it deliberates the sentences for the two Malaysians. The men are expected to face a prison term of between 20 and 25 years, according to the details of a plea agreement.

Eleven relatives of victims were expected to give their statements in person on Wednesday, and as were two of Farik’s brothers.

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