Armed policemen secure the Elections Supervisory Agency to prevent terrorists infiltrating the compound during a protest in Indonesian capital Jakarta in March. (Photo by Konradus Epa/ucanews)
An Indonesian court has sentenced to death a member of banned terror group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) for attacking police personnel last year.
Suherman was convicted of carrying out a series of attacks including one on two traffic police officers on a toll road in Cirebon, West Java, in late August 2018 that killed one officer.
He carried out the attacks with six other members of the Cirebon chapter of JAD, the Islamic State-linked group blamed for several attacks in Indonesia including church bombings.
Suherman and five suspects were arrested in early September 2018 by the national police’s anti-terror squad Densus 88 in different locations. Meanwhile, two other terrorist suspects were shot and killed after resisting arrest during a raid.
“Suherman a.k.a. Herman a.k.a. Eman a.k.a. Abu Zahra bin Suharjo is proven guilty of carrying out acts of terrorism” and “deserves the death penalty,” according to the verdict of the East Jakarta District Court as reported by media on Oct. 13.
The verdict, however, received strong criticism from Azas Tigor Nainggolan, a Catholic legal practitioner who serves as coordinator of the human rights desk of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People.
“Do we have the right to kill a human being no matter what they do? No! If we sentence terrorists to death, we are just like them. So what is the difference between us and them then?” Nainggolan told ucanews.
“The death penalty must be avoided as it does not have a deterrent effect. Life imprisonment is better than the death penalty as criminals — even terrorists — can change,” he said, mentioning several former terrorists who now run small businesses in Solo, Central Java.
The verdict was read out by the court’s panel of judges just one day before Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, a former general, was attacked by two JAD sympathizers, Syahrial Alamsyah and his wife Fitri Andriana, using sharp weapons during a working visit on Oct. 10 to Pandeglang, Banten.
Following the incident, Densus 88 arrested dozens of terrorist suspects in some parts of the country including Bali, where terror attacks killed at least 202 people in October 2002.
Suherman is not the first militant to be sentenced to death. In November 2008, three members of Jemaah Islamiyah were executed by firing squad on Nusakambangan Island in Central Java for their involvement in the Bali bombings.