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Indonesia jails hardline Muslim for terrorism offenses

Critics say three-year term for former Islamic Defenders Front secretary-general is not long enough
Indonesia jails hardline Muslim for terrorism offenses

Indonesia’s anti-terror squad Densus 88 arrests Munarman, a former secretary-general of the Islamic Defenders Front, on April 27, 2021, in Jakarta. (Photo: Indonesian National Police)

Published: April 06, 2022 09:17 AM GMT
Updated: April 06, 2022 10:42 AM GMT

An Indonesian court has sentenced a senior member of a banned hardline Muslim group to three years in prison for terrorism offenses.

Critics said the sentence was far too lenient considering the gravity of the crime committed.

Munarman, 53, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, is a former secretary-general of the now-outlawed Islamic Defenders Front, a group responsible for inciting violence against religious minorities including Christians.

He was found guilty by the East Jakarta District Court on April 6 of assisting terrorists in carrying out terrorist acts.

Munarman had close links with and helped terror organizations such as Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a local terrorist outfit affiliated to the Islamic State group, according to the court.

JAD has been held responsible for various bomb attacks on churches including a suicide bomb attack on a Catholic cathedral in Makassar, South Sulawesi province, on Palm Sunday last year.

“Prosecutors should appeal the sentence because Munarman as an instigator of terrorism deserves a harsher punishment”

Aziz Yanuar, Munarman's lawyer, denied his client was involved in terrorism, saying he would appeal the sentence. 

The three-year sentence was lighter than the eight years prosecutors had demanded at the start of his trial.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, said Munarman had got off lightly. “Prosecutors should appeal the sentence because Munarman as an instigator of terrorism deserves a harsher punishment,” he told UCA News.

Petrus Celestinus, a prominent Catholic lawyer, also criticized the sentence. “The judges should have taken into account the potential harm caused by his actions,” he said.

He said people involved in a terrorism case such as this should be sentenced to 15 years.

Munarman was arrested at his home in Jakarta on April 27, 2021, by members of Indonesia's anti-terror squad Densus 88.

He is the second high-ranking member of the Islamic Defenders Front to be handed jail time since the group was banned in 2019. Former leader Rizieq Shihab is serving a two-year prison term for flouting Covid-19 restrictions.

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