Banda Aceh – An Indonesian court on Thursday jailed two Islamic policemen for gang-raping a young woman in custody, a case that has sparked outrage in the deeply religious province of Aceh.
Mohammed Nazir, 29, and Feri Agus, 28, were found guilty of raping a 20-year-old student in a police station in January after she was arrested with her boyfriend under local laws designed to enforce Islamic morals.
The eight-year jail sentence for the two men was lighter that the maximum penalty of 12 years demanded by prosecutors who said the defendants, as sharia police officers, should have better morals.
But the judge defended the punishment. "The defendants have never committed any crime before, they were always polite during the trial and they are the breadwinners in their family," chief judge Lukman Bachmit said.
"An eight-year jail term is considered quite heavy compared to other similar crimes in Indonesia," he said.
Indonesia's Muslims are mostly moderate, but Aceh has special autonomy, and one of the ways it differentiates itself is through implementation of Shariah law, enforced by special Islamic police.
Rights activists called for the Islamic force to be disbanded after the incident, saying it did nothing but harass women about their clothes and humiliate young unmarried couples.
They also said the Shariah police were not empowered to detain anyone, and could only issue warnings. Aceh's provincial deputy governor Mohammad Nazar said the rape was an isolated incident.