Ten years on, relatives of Bali bombing victims seek final justice

 

Relatives of the British victims of the 2002 Bali bombings are calling for renewed efforts for a final suspect to stand trial as they prepare to mark the 10th anniversary of the tragedy tomorrow.

A total of 202 people, including 28 Britons, were killed on October 12, 2002, when the al-Qa'ida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group launched terror attacks on two Bali nightspots packed with tourists.

During the attack three bombs detonated - a backpack carried by a suicide bomber and a car bomb which both devastated Paddy's Pub and the Sari Club opposite, followed by a third device outside the US consulate in Denpasar.

Various members of Jemaah Islamiyah were convicted in relation to the bombings. Three - Imam Samudra, Amrozi Nurhasyim and Huda bin Abdul Haq - were executed by firing squad in November 2008.

The 10th anniversary of the attack - the deadliest on Indonesian soil - will be marked in Bali by hundreds of relatives and friends of the victims, but authorities have raised the country's security alert to its highest level after receiving intelligence of a threat to the ceremony.

The anniversary is also being marked in London by a closed service organised by the Foreign Office at the memorial to British and European victims near St James' Park.

Relatives of the 28 British victims have also organised a service at St Paul's Church in Covent Garden.

But Susanna Miller, whose brother Dan, 31, died in the attacks, which left his wife Polly seriously injured, is calling for a final push to make sure those responsible are held to account.

According to relatives of survivors, one of the terrorists associated in the bombing, Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, is still being held in detention in America.

“We have been campaigning very hard over the years for him to stand trial and be charged. He has been in Guantanamo for nine years,” said Ms Miller, 45.

Branding the situation an “open travesty of human rights”, she added: “It plays brilliantly into hands of the recruiting sergeants for al-Qa'ida.

”We find ourselves in this slightly curious position of fighting for the rights of one of the people responsible for the deaths of our relatives.“

Ms Miller visited the Foreign Office last week to discuss the issue and a spokesman confirmed it is being looked into.

She said feeling justice had been served would make victims' relatives ”minds quieter“.

”My brother was a lawyer, he believed in justice, he believed in the rule of law and it's particularly invidious that the single most important trial has not taken place and the detention of this terrorist actively helps recruit others.“

The 45-year-old, who lives in north London, said many relatives were not travelling to Bali for the 10th anniversary because of security concerns.

And although 10 years is a significant marker, the tragedy remains fresh.

”Time, in many ways, stops still, and you just have to learn to live a different life.

“The more time passes, the more you realise what they have lost and the more family events they miss. In a way it gets sadder, in a way you miss them more on their birthdays, anniversaries, family events.”

Remembering the moment she found out what had happened, Ms Miller said she was in Mumbai with her partner while her brother was in Bali with wife Polly - the couple, who lived in Hong Kong, had married just five weeks earlier.

“I turned on my mobile when I woke up in the morning and it exploded with texts and missed calls so I opened the first text message and it said, 'phone home'.

”I spoke to my father who told me a bomb had gone off. We immediately turned on the tv.“

She returned to the UK then later flew to Bali to help in the hunt for her brother, but it was later confirmed that he had died. So had his and Polly's bridesmaid Annika Linden, 30, and several of their friends.

The Miller family is still in touch with Polly, who suffered 43 per cent body burns. She has since remarried with two children, and set up Dan's Fund for Burns, which offers practical help to burn survivors in the UK, in his memory.

Ms Miller also has a seven-year-old son, Solomon Dan - named after his late uncle: ”They would have got on so well, it's just one of those great sadnesses that they never met.“

Support from other families helps, she said - at her father's funeral last year there were five sets of relatives of Bali victims.

”There's a sort of sense of community. But I think most people would say it has split their lives in half - pre-Bali and post-Bali,“ she added.

”I think all you can do is live a new life, because you can never change what that bomb has done to us and continues to do.

“It's like having an elephant in the room, you just have to learn to live a different life, because it will never be the same, and frankly, if you are human it shouldn't be.”

PA

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