Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta – Prosecutors in Indonesia have sought a 10-year jail term for a man accused of attempting to kill a 44-year-old Saudi-born Muslim cleric last year.
Alpin Andrian, 24, allegedly stabbed Syekh Ali Jaber in the shoulder while he was delivering a sermon on Sept. 13 last year at a mosque in Bandar Lampung, the largest city in Lampung province.
Police said Andrian would likely have killed the cleric had he not been restrained by several worshippers.
Attempted murder carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years in prison or even the death penalty.
However, chief prosecutor Abdullah Noer Deny told judges during a virtual hearing at the Tanjungkarang District Court in Bandar Lampung on Feb. 18 that Andrian should only serve 10 years.
This was because the defendant had shown remorse and apologized to the victim, he said.
The relatively light sentence recommendation came as a surprise to many as footage of the attack went viral on social media, drawing widespread condemnation.
Police said the motive for the attack still remains unclear as there were no signs Andrian was suffering from mental illness despite claims from his family he was mentally unstable.
Azas Tigor Nainggolan, a Catholic lawyer and coordinator of the Indonesian bishops' Advocacy and Human Rights Forum, said the proposed sentence "was too light."
"A sentence aims to stop a crime and provide a deterrent effect. Recommending too low a sentence sends out the wrong signal," he told UCA News.
However, judges can choose to ignore prosecutors and impose a heavier punishment if the evidence warrants it, he said. The attacker had a knife in the footage. "This indicates the attack was premeditated."
Ardiansyah, the defendant's lawyer, claimed the prosecutor's sentence demand was too harsh, saying his client only meant to wound the cleric.
If he had meant to kill him, his client would have aimed for one of his vital organs, he said, adding the crime only warranted a maximum five-year term.
The victim, however, will not be able to testify at the trial. The prominent cleric died in Jakarta on Jan. 14 following a 19-day battle against the coronavirus.