Syahril Marbun, a church worker convicted of raping altar boys is seen here in this file photo.. (Photo supplied)
A court in Indonesia has thrown out an appeal by a former Church worker sentenced to a lengthy prison term earlier this year for sexually abusing two altar boys.
The Bandung High Court in West Java province on March 23 upheld the 15-year prison sentence handed down by the Depok District Court in January to Syharil Marbun.
He was convicted of raping two altar boys from St. Herkulanus Parish Church in Depok in Bogor Diocese, where he served as liturgical coordinator.
Marbun was also ordered to pay a total of 200 million rupiah (US$14,360) in compensation to his two victims, aged 14 and 15, rupiah respectively.
"Thank God. The judges heard the prayers and cries of the victims,” said Azas Tigor Nainggolan, the victims' lawyer following the ruling.
However, Marbun can still file an appeal to the Supreme Court, which must be submitted within 14 days, he told UCA News.
The father of one of the victims welcomed the High Court ruling but also called for Marbun to be chemically castrated.
Indonesia allows judges to impose chemical castration against sex offenders in certain cases, including where there is more than one victim.
By filing an appeal, “the convict is still not aware of the impact of his crimes,” the father said.
"He gave absolutely no thought in terms of the consequences of his actions on all of his victims," he told UCA News.
He said his son was still traumatized and receiving psychological counseling from a nun.
The case came to light in March 2020, after an altar boy claimed that Marbun had sexually attacked him in the church compound.
It prompted the parish to start an investigation – that also involved the bishops’ Commission for Justice, Peace and Migrant-Itinerant People -- into the claim and to see if there were other victims.
The probe revealed Marbun had abused at least 22 victims since 2001.
It also resulted in the first sexual abuse case within the Indonesian Catholic Church to be brought before a court.
Nainggolan said Marbun still awaits prosecution in some of the other cases, including that of a 16-year-old altar boy who filed a complaint in July last year.
He said local police were being slow in acting on the complaint.