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Maximum sentence sought in alleged Aceh religious police rape

Jakarta Globe - June 23, 2010

Nurdin Hasan, Banda Aceh – Prosecutors on Tuesday asked the Langsa District Court in Aceh to sentence a member of the province's Wilayatul Hisbah Shariah Police to 12 years in prison for the alleged rape and torture of a 20-year-old female student in January.

Prosecutor Sayed Muhammad said the defendant, Muhammad Nazir, 29, had taken turns raping the woman in a police detention cell with two other officers in the early hours of Jan. 8, a Friday.

"As an officer of the Wilayatul Hisbah, he was supposed to be upholding Islamic Shariah law. Instead, he brutally violated the law," Sayed told the Jakarta Globe.

The prosecutor said that under Article 285 of the country's Criminal Code, the maximum punishment for rape is 12 years in prison.

"He also gave confusing and convoluted statements during interrogation," Sayed said, adding that this played a part in prosecutors seeking the maximum jail term for the defendant.

Judge Lukman Bachmid presided over the trial. Friday is considered "a day of goodness" in Islam, and afternoon prayers on Friday are mandatory for Muslims.

The victim was taken into custody for allegedly engaging in an immoral act with her boyfriend on Jalan Lingkar, near the PTPN-I Langsa ring road.

Both the woman and her boyfriend were brought in by police and questioned over the alleged violation of the 2003 Shariah Public Indecency Law.

Sayed said that a medical examination confirmed that the victim had been sexually assaulted and that she had suffered severe hemorrhaging as a result of the rape. The trial is scheduled to resume on July 12.

Another defendant in the case, Feri Agus, 28, is being tried by the same court. A third suspect, Dedy Setiawan, 27, is still at large. Sayed said the prosecutors' sentencing demand for Feri would be read in court next month.

Marhami, from the Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH Apik), who has been assisting the victim during the trial, said the victim's family expected the perpetrators to be given the maximum sentence under the law.