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Indonesian pastor faces trial for child rape

Prosecutors demand 10 years for Protestant cleric accused of subjecting girl to 15-year reign of terror

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Indonesian pastor faces trial for child rape

A file image of Reverend Hanny Lantara. Prosecutors in the Surabaya district court demanded a 10-year jail term for the Protestant pastor for allegedly raping a girl for nearly 15 years. (Photo: Hanny Lantara's Facebook)

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Prosecutors in Indonesia have demanded a 10-year prison term for a Protestant pastor accused of sexually abusing a member of his congregation for nearly 15 years. 

Reverend Hanny Lantara, 57, former chairman of the Happy Family Center Church in Surabaya, East Java province, is accused of repeatedly raping the girl from the age of nine until she was 23 years old. 

The victim, now 26, made the complaint with help from an activist and her family in February after overcoming fears resulting from years of alleged intimidation and threats by the accused.

Lantara has been dismissed from his church as a result of the allegations. 

Prosecutor Sabetania Paembonan said they demanded 10 years for Lantara “because of the degree of trauma he had caused the victim.”

“He has destroyed the victim’s future,” Paembonan said during a court hearing on Sept. 14.

The family of the victim said 10 years was an appropriate sentence.

"It proves that our law is applied for all citizens. It doesn’t see his status as a religious leader. If he violates the law, he must accept the consequences,” said one relative, Eden Thenu.

She said tough sentences should always be applied to sexual offenders as more Indonesian children are becoming victims of sexual abuse.

Ariest Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the National Commission of Child Protection, criticized the prosecutors, saying 10 years would not give justice to the victim.

“The punishment needs to be more than 10 years because he abused the girl for many years since she was a minor,” Sirait told UCA News.

“A heavier punishment should have a deterrent effect. Besides, this horrible act was committed by a religious leader.” 

It was not clear when Lantara will stand trial but it is expected proceedings will be conducted virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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