Sepritanto Ayub Snae, a Protestant Christian in Indonesia, was sentenced to death for raping nine children, on March 8. (Photo: Reportase News)
A court in Indonesia’s Christian-majority East Nusa Tenggara province has sentenced to death a former Protestant seminarian for raping nine minor girls, reports say.
Sepriyanto Ayub Snae of the Evangelical Church in Timor was found guilty of sexual abuse of nine children by the panel of judges at the Kalabahi District Court in Alor Regency, Voice of Indonesia reported on March 9.
The verdict was pronounced on March 8 in the presence of the defendant, said the report, referring to Abdul Hakim, head of the provincial Information and Public Relations department.
The prosecution team has “legally and convincingly proven” that Snae had committed the crime, Hakim said.
Police arrested 36-year-old Snae last September after family members of the victims filed a criminal complaint against him.
He was accused of raping girls aged 15-16 several times between May 2021 and March 2022 on the premises of a church in Waisika village where he served as an assistant minister.
Yames Jems Mbau, an officer from Criminal Investigation Unit, had earlier told UCA News that Snae had videotaped the crime and used it to blackmail the victims, all Sunday school students.
The Synod of the Evangelical Church in Timor issued a statement to welcome the verdict.
The church leaders respect the court’s judgment which came after due legal procedures including testimonies from the witnesses, the defendant, and examining the evidence, said the statement signed by Reverend Merry Kolimon, the synod chairperson.
This case will have “a deterrent effect” to prevent crimes related to sexual violence against women and children in the future, said the statement.
The church will continue to assist the child victims in all possible ways, it said.
Besides, the church continues "to make efforts to prevent the recurrence of violence against women and children in church services.”
The synod, however, appealed to the Indonesian government to reconsider the death penalty as the church believes only God is “the Giver, Creator, and Sustainer of life.”
Snae’s legal team member Jefta O. Djahasana said they will appeal against the verdict.
“We will appeal because it is the legal right of the defendant,” Djahasana told tribunapos.net on March 9.
Sexual violence against women and children is high in Indonesia.The National Commission on Violence Against Women reported that about 340,000 cases of violence against women and children were recorded in 2021, about a 50 percent increase from 2020.
The rise in gender-based violence prompted the parliament to pass the Sexual Violence Crimes Law in April 2022.
The law sets out nine different types of sexual abuse -- physical and non-physical sexual abuse, forced contraception, forced sterilization, forced marriage, sexual torture, sexual exploitation, sexual slavery, and sexual abuse through electronic means.
Snea is the second church worker convicted of rape in two years in Indonesia.
In January 2021, a court sentenced Syahril Marbun, a liturgical coordinator at St. Herculanus Catholic Church in Depok, West Java province, to 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting two altar boys.