Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – The East Java High Court has commuted musician Ahmad Dhani Prasetyo's prison sentence for violating Indonesia's draconian internet law to a six-month probation in a verdict published earlier this week.
Dhani, also a Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) politician, is currently serving a one-year jail sentence after the Surabaya District Court in June found him guilty of calling a group of protesters "idiots" in a video that went viral.
The sentence was given under Indonesia's strict internet law, known as UU ITE (Electronic Information and Transaction Law).
The High Court in a review of Dhani's appeal reinstated his guilty verdict for "electronic dissemination of information that carries defamatory content," but declared he should be put on probation.
Dhani was sentenced to three months in jail that he would not have to serve, "unless there is a different court ruling in a later date if the defendant commits a crime before his probation period ends," the verdict reads.
When contacted, both the prosecution team and Dhani's attorneys said they had not received an official copy of the High Court ruling.
Dhani was reported to police after he published a vlog commenting on people who opposed his visit to Surabaya on Aug. 26 last year.
Dhani was in the East Java capital to declare a movement called #2019GantiPresiden ("Change the President in 2019"), which clamored for a new president to replace Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
The movement drew resistance from many groups in Indonesia's second-largest city and Dhani was unable to walk out of his hotel since it was surrounded by many protesters.
The 47-year-old now spends his time in Cipinang Prison in East Jakarta because prior to his Surabaya conviction, he was also found guilty in another defamation case in the capital.
A Jakarta court sentenced him to 18 months in jail in January for spreading hate speech against supporters of former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.
That means that Dhani cannot be immediately released despite the East Java court ruling.
Dhani failed to win enough votes for a seat in the House of Representatives in April's legislative election, while his second wife, Mulan Jameela, is now a House member representing the same party.