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Jakarta Post

Prosecutors demand 8 months for schizophrenic woman accused of blasphemy

  • Theresia Sufa

    The Jakarta Post

Bogor, West Java   /   Tue, December 17, 2019   /   07:05 pm
Prosecutors demand 8 months for schizophrenic woman accused of blasphemy Suzethe Margaret (left) and her brother Adi Santoso approach the Cibinong District Court in Bogor, West Java, on Tuesday. (JP/Theresia Sufa)

Prosecutors at the Cibinong District Court in Bogor, West Java, have demanded eight months of imprisonment for Suzethe Margaret, a woman charged with blasphemy for entering a mosque wearing shoes and carrying her dog.

During a hearing on Tuesday, prosecutor Haris Mahardhika told the court that Suzethe had violated Article 156a of the Criminal Code on blasphemy and demanded that the suspect be found guilty of actions considered blasphemous against a certain religion.

Presiding judge Indra Meinantha Vidi gave Suzethe time to talk with her legal representatives after hearing the charges.

Suzethe’s lawyer Alfonsus Atu Kota said after the trial that the prosecutors’ demand to sentence her client to eight months of imprisonment was “too much”, especially considering that Suzethe suffered from mental illness.

"The prosecutors failed to see that the defendant suffers from mental health issues since 1997, which has been proven by a statement from doctors,” Alfonsus told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

"We also have medical records since 2013 proving that [Suzethe] is undergoing treatment until today, but the prosecutors refuse to take them into account,” he added.

The case started earlier this year when Suzethe became an internet sensation after causing a fuss inside the Al-Munawaroh mosque in Sentul, Bogor regency.

Believing that her husband was marrying another woman inside the mosque, she stormed inside while bringing her pet dog and wearing her shoes ─ shocking members of the mosque congregation and netizens who saw the incident after the footage was posted and made rounds on social media.

Suzethe was subsequently reported to the local police, who were quick to charge her with blasphemy following a public outcry ─ even though she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"It will be a bad precedent for our law if they choose to detain a [mentally] ill person,” Alfonsus said. “We will continue to defend her, since she only did such things due to her poor physical and psychological condition.”

Suzethe, he said, was shocked upon hearing the prosecutors’ demand.

"She asked me whether the court would detain her, but I tried to calm her down and told her that we would keep fighting for her," Alfonsus said, adding that he still had high hopes for the court’s judges to be independent and impartial in handing down their verdict in the case. (dpk)