Heavier sentence sought for Ahmadi man
Amid criticism and condemnation from human rights activists and foreign governments over the lenient jail sentences handed to 12 extremists involved in a mob riot that killed three Ahmadis, prosecutors at the Serang District Court sought a heavier sentence for an Ahmadi defendant accused of provoking the violence.
Prosecutors on Tuesday sought nine months’ imprisonment for Deden Darmawan Sudjana, a defendant implicated in the fatal attack perpetrated by a group of Muslim hard-liners against the minority Ahmadiyah sect in Cikeusik, Banten, on Feb. 6.
Deden is facing a longer jail term compared to 12 others indicted for participating in the riot, who were sentenced to between three and six months in jail. Prosecutors had previously sought jail sentences of between five and seven months.
Prosecutors said they could not charge the 12 defendants with murder because the death of the three Ahmadis was “an unanticipated incident” and “an inevitable consequence of an uncontrolled clash”.
“We have collected enough evidence. Deden was proven to have breached the Criminal Code Article 160 on inciting hatred and Article 351 (1) on physical abuse,” Serang Prosecutors’ Office head Jan
Maringka said. “We found several sharp weapons in Deden’s cars. It showed that Deden had the intention to fight the attackers.”
Local Ahmadiyah congregation security chief Deden came to Cikeusik in Banten on Feb. 6 after a seven-hour journey from Jakarta, along with 16 other Ahmadis to secure a house. There were widespread rumors that a group of people planned to destroy the house and set it on fire because of Ahmadiyah’s “deviant” religious beliefs.
Media reports said that the Ahmadis carried three spears, a sack of stones, slingshots and straight-blade daggers inside two cars.
Jan said that Deden and other Ahmadis refused to leave even though the police had said that they would secure the house.
According to Antara news agency, Deden told the police: “Just let [the riot] happen. We will see a bloodbath here.”
Despite the fact that the Ahmadis were the victims of the attack, Jan said that “The Ahmadis provoked the riot. They had been warned before but refused to withdraw”.
Deden’s lawyer from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, Kiagus Ahmad Bella Sati, said that the nine-month sentence was unfair. “The attackers received five to seven months, while Deden, who is a victim, could face nine months,” he said.
Deden suffered a significant injury to his arm during the riot that required seven hours of surgery at Pertamina Central Hospital.
“The prosecutors want to give Deden a longer sentence. It shows that the prosecutors consider his crime more serious than the attackers who killed three people,” he said.
Ahmad admitted that his client said “just let [the riot] happen. We will see a bloodbath here”, but added that he had only said this in frustration over perceptions of insufficient police protection for the Ahmadis. The defense lawyer also presented experts who testified that Deden acted in self-defense.
The Cikeusik incident and its trial have put Indonesia under the spotlight for failing to protect its minorities. The light sentences handed to the perpetrators of the attacks triggered a storm of criticism from human rights defenders and the international community. (lfr)