The Jakarta Post
Nearly a week after the fatal incident that killed six of his supporters, Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab voluntarily went to the Jakarta Police headquarters on Saturday to fulfill a police summons for questioning in a case in which he has been named a suspect for allegedly violating COVID-19 health protocols.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Cmr. Yusri Yunus said Rizieq had handed himself over to the police as they had not sent a summons to him on Saturday.
“He was afraid he would be arrested, so he came here. We did not summons him [today]. We warned that we would arrest him,” Yusri said as reported by tribunnews.com.
He added that it would depend on investigators questioning Rizieq whether or not the cleric would be detained.
Rizieq arrived at the Jakarta Police headquarters on Saturday morning accompanied by several FPI members, including secretary-general Munarman and the group’s attorney, Azis Yanuar.
Speaking to reporters, he said he was healthy and ready for police questioning.
“By the blessings of Allah, today I can be present at the Jakarta Police headquarters to [cooperate with] the investigation according to the law,” Rizieq said on Saturday as reported by Kompas TV.
He denied that he had been in hiding, saying he had been staying at his Islamic boarding school in Megamendung, Bogor, West Java, with occasional visits to the Sentul area and his house, as well as FPI’s headquarters in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, to see his children and grandchildren.
The Jakarta Police had named him and five other FPI members suspects on Thursday. They were all charged for holding events that pulled in thousands of people last month, defying health protocols amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The police previously threatened to arrest the controversial cleric as he had failed to fulfill two summonses for questioning.
Azis said the decision to come to the police was made by Rizieq himself as he aimed to be cooperative in law enforcement efforts.
“God willing, he [Rizieq] is ready for all possibilities [including being detained],” Aziz said.
Rizieq and the five other suspects may be charged under Article 160 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on the incitement of criminal acts, which can lead to up to six years in prison, as well as Article 216, which stipulates a prison sentence of up to four months and two weeks for those found guilty of obstructing law enforcement efforts.
Rizieq was once again in the spotlight following his controversial return to Indonesia last month, after more than three years in self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia. His homecoming was welcomed by thousands of supporters who thronged the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, as well as his residence and FPI headquarters in Petamburan.
The group later held a Maulid (Prophet Muhammad’s birthday) celebration and the wedding of Rizieq’s daughter on Nov. 15. Both events drew thousands of people and initiated the police investigation over Rizieq and the FPI’s alleged breach of COVID-19 health protocols.
In a turn of events, the police shot dead six of his bodyguards on Monday during an alleged altercation at a section of the Jakarta-Cikampek toll road. Investigators had reportedly been tailing him and his entourage because of a tip claiming Rizieq and his followers were planning to evade police questioning, which is considered obstruction of justice.
Both the police and the FPI issued different accounts of the incident, with the police arguing that the officers defended themselves from a life-threatening attack launched by FPI members. The group, in contrast, claimed that none of its members had been carrying weapons and the shooting had violated police protocols.
The incident stoked speculations and public outcry over alleged mishandling by the police. A video began circulating on social media showing a shootout between two groups, claimed to be footage of the incident. However, it was later proven to be a shooting that had taken place at La Judea square in El Santuario, Anrioquia, Colombia, South America, in January.
The National Police Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) has also requested the Jakarta Police to investigate and bring to justice the individuals who had spread the “hoax” video.
“We have ordered regional police headquarters to probe all fake news,” National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Argo Yuwono said on Friday, antaranews.com reported. (ami)