Jakarta – Musician and politician Ahmad Dhani Prasetyo walked free from Cipinang Prison in East Jakarta on Monday after serving 11 months behind bars for hate speech.
Dhani, who refused to answer questions from reporters, left the prison on Monday morning in a white Mercedes-Benz Unimog truck, accompanied by his children, wife, and his supporters.
Dozens of Dhani's supporters had been waiting at the penitentiary since early morning to welcome the former lead singer of rock band Dewa, causing traffic congestion in the area.
Dhani was seen wearing a skullcap and a black t-shirt with the face of national hero general Sudirman printed on it. He stood on the unimog with his family and waved to the crowd as the car left the Cipinang prison.
Dhani was sentenced to 18 months in prison by the South Jakarta District Court last January for a series of tweets he posted in March 2017. In the tweets, Dhani attacked supporters of the former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, familiarly known as Ahok, who at the time was on trial for blasphemy.
One of Dhani's tweets read, "Anyone who supports the blasphemer is scum and deserves to be spat in the face". He posted the tweets during the gubernatorial election campaign in March 2017, which coincided with Ahok's trial.
Dhani was found guilty of violating Article 45 of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law by inciting hatred toward a group of people based on race, ethnicity or class. However, after he appealed to the Jakarta High Court, his sentence was reduced to one year of imprisonment.
During the trial, Dani was reported for hate speech again by a coalition calling itself Defend NKRI (Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia).
Dhani, who is also a Gerindra Party politician, was reported to the Sidoarjo Police, East Java, after calling his political rivals "idiots".
In June, the judge ruled that Ahmad Dhani had violated Article 27 Clause 3 of the ITE Law. The Surabaya District Court sentenced him to one year in jail for the case, but Dhani appealed and his sentence was cut to six months of probation. (nal)