Archipelago

Regent grilled on teen
marriage scandal

The West Java Police say that they questioned Garut Regent Aceng Fikri for six hours on Tuesday on his scandalous marriage to — and speedy divorce from — a 17-year-old girl.

The chief of the provincial police’s criminal investigations unit, Sr. Comr. Slamet Riyanto, said Aceng was interrogated following a report filed with the police by Indonesian Child Protection Commission task force secretary Ahmad Gufron.

“His status is still as a witness,” Slamet Riyanto said on Tuesday.

The report accused Aceng of harassing the girl, identified as FO, to have intercourse following their unregistered Muslim marriage that ended after four days, when Aceng advised her of the divorce by text message, Slamet said.

Aceng might have violated Articles 81 and 88 of Law No 23/2002 on child protection and Article 280 of the Criminal Code for a marrying a second wife without the approval of his first wife, according to the police.

“If he is named a suspect for the alleged violations, he will face charges that have a penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment,” Slamet said.

The police said they would decide whether to charge Aceng after the investigators reenacted the alleged crime in an “expose”, a common police practice.

“The public expose will be held as soon as possible, maybe next week. Then we will be able to decide on who should be named as suspects,” Slamet said.

West Java Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul said Aceng had been aided by four others: Saefudin, Ayi Rohmat, Den Heri and Ceng Ali.

Some introduced the regent to the girl; others witnessed the marriage. Police interviewed 14 other witnesses in the case, including FO.

Speaking to reporters after he was questioned, Aceng said that he was fulfilling his obligation as a citizen asked to give information to the police.

“I have to finish this, although there are crucial matters in Garut,” the regent said.

Aceng’s lawyer Oddy Akil denied his client sexually harassed the girl with a familiar claim in such cases. “I think she was already over 18,” Oddy said.

The regent’s fate hangs by a thread as officials in Jakarta consider removing him from office. The Supreme Court recently accepted the Garut Legislative Council’s request to impeach Aceng.

Supreme Court spokesman Ridwan Mansur said a panel of justices had accepted the impeachment recommendation forwarded from the council and had determined that Aceng violated his oath of office.

Impeachment proceedings began after the Garut Legislative Council issued letter No. 30/2012 after a meeting on Dec. 21, alleging that Aceng had behaved unethically and had violated Law No. 1/1974 on marriage.

The council recommended the regent be removed under Law No. 32/2004 on regional administration and asking an opinion from the Supreme Court.

Sanctions for ethical or criminal lapses of regional officials is regulated by Government Regulation No. 6/2005 on the Election, Approval, Appointment and Dismissal of Regional Heads.

Aceng, through his lawyer Ujang Sujai, expressed his disappointment with the ruling.

“The marriage was regulated and recognized under Islamic law but the Supreme Court saw it as the marriage of Aceng Fikri as a regional head, and not as an individual,” Ujang said.

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