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Despite several attempts by the Indonesian authorities, Bashir was never directly blamed for the explosions in nightclubs on Kuta Beach

A radical cleric linked to the deadly bombings in Bali was released early from prison to combat the grief and anger of the survivors and the families of the victims of Indonesia’s worst terrorist attack

The notorious Islamic extremist Abu Bakar Bashir, who was accused of orchestrating the 2002 Bali bombings, was released from an Indonesian prison on Friday

Bashir was the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah – the terrorist group behind the 2002 bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians

Andrew Csabi, a survivor of the bombings, said he was sentenced to life imprisonment for entering the sari club in Bali 18 years ago

“Eighteen years doesn’t make much difference when you witness mass murder and what I’ve been through,” he told SBS News. “Obviously your daily challenges after losing a leg above your knee and a half a foot in a terrorist attack have

“I really don’t think he changed his behavior,” Csabi said of Bashir, “I don’t think he repented, took responsibility or apologized for his involvement”

Under cover of darkness and surrounded by local authorities, Bashir left Gunung Sindur Detention Center as a free man on Friday

The 82-year-old in his signature white coat and a face mask stopped to take pictures with prison officials

Bashir has been behind bars since 2011 for sponsoring a terrorist camp, and his 15-year sentence has been reduced on a regular basis for good behavior, leading to his early release

Jan Laczynski, who had left the saree club a few hours before the bombs were released after a happy break, lost five friends that night

“There are many families who still suffer every day,” Laczynski told SBS News

“When you talk about him leaving today, the picture is so painful that as soon as someone sees this picture on television, a hole burns their hearts”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that Bashir’s freedom was oppressive to the family and friends of the 88 Australians killed in the Bali bombings

“We made it clear through our message in Jakarta that we fear that such people will not incite others, and we will continue to pursue these types of issues,” he said

However, the expert Gregory Fealy of the Australian National University believes that the radical cleric is unlikely to endanger Indonesian security

“He is an old man, not in good health, he has no contact with jihadist circles and he is also closely monitored by the Indonesian authorities, everything he says and everyone he meets,” he said SBS News

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Bali bombings

World News – Bali bombing survivors express anger and sadness as extremist Abu Bakar Bashir is freed