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Pakistan extradites Bali bombing suspect Umar Patek to Indonesia

The arrest of Islamist militant Umar Patek is raising questions about how best to prosecute militants suspected of cross-border terrorism.

By Correspondent / August 11, 2011

Armed officers stand guard outside a police compound where Indonesian militant Umar Patek is detained in the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 11. Patek, who allegedly made the explosives used in the 2002 Bali bombings, returned to his homeland under tight security Thursday, more than six months after he was captured in northwest Pakistan, officials said.

Irwin Fedriansyah/AP

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Jakarta, Indonesia

Pakistan repatriated militant Umar Patek to Indonesia on Thursday, nearly seven months after the Bali bombing suspect was captured in Abbottabad, the same Pakistani city where US Special Forces killed Osama bin Laden in May.

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Upon Mr. Patek’s return, the head of the country’s anti-terrorism agency, Ansyaad Mbai, told local media that the Javanese-Arab militant had admitted to making the bombs used in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

Patek’s arrest has stirred concerns about how best to prosecute militants suspected of cross-border terrorism. His co-conspirator in the Bali bombing, a militant known as Hambali, is currently at Guantanamo Bay, awaiting trial after being arrested in Thailand in 2003.

Initially, Indonesian officials feared Patek could walk free if he was returned to Jakarta, since a robust anti-terrorism law enacted in 2003 could not be applied retroactively to punish Patek for his alleged role in the Bali bombings.

“We want to ensure he will be responsible for all the alleged terrorist acts he has perpetrated,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene. “Once our security apparatus had built up the case and we felt we had a strong case to bring him to justice, then we started the process to bring him back.”

Officials here now say Patek could be charged with premeditated murder and tried under the criminal code and emergency law 12, which prohibits the possession and use of explosives.

“That could get him a stiff sentence,” says Sidney Jones, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, which monitors security issues in Indonesia.

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