Jakarta – Indonesian prosecutors on Monday recommended a sentence of 34 months in jail for firebrand cleric Rizieq Syihab, who is accused of violating health protocol during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The prosecution team also demanded that the former leader of now-defunct Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) be banned from holding leadership role in any mass organization for the next three years.
The recommended jail term is an accumulation of concurrent sentences in two separate demands – the first asks for 10 months and the second recommends two years.
Rizieq stands trial for two counts, including attending a mass gathering at a Muslim boarding school in Megamendung, Bogor, West Java, and arranging a religious event as well as a wedding party for his daughter at his home in Petamburan, East Jakarta, in November of last year.
Prosecutors said the events were held with little regard for government advices against mass gatherings during the pandemic.
Rizieq is facing a longer jail term for the events to commemorate Prophet Mohammad's birthday and to host a party for his daughter's wedding because he deliberately invited many guests to his home, according to the prosecution demand.
Prosecutors also asked the East Jakarta District Court to keep Rizieq in detention while awaiting verdict.
They reminded the judge panel that the defendant had been convicted of crime twice in 2003 and 2008.
"Secondly, the defendant's actions didn't help government's Covid-19 prevention program – they instead worsened public health emergency situation," prosecutor Syahnan Tanjung told the court.
The prosecutor cited Rizieq's "impoliteness and twisted arguments" throughout the court proceedings that has begun since mid-March, as he read out the sentencing demand.
Rizieq turned himself in to the police on Dec. 13, six days after a police chase led to the fatal shooting of six FPI members in a Jakarta suburb. Police argued that they were pursuing a vehicle convoy carrying Rizieq when a car tried to block them on the toll road.
Two FPI members were killed on the spot, while four others died later in what police described as defense action as they allegedly resisted arrest and tried to grab police guns while in the car. The National Commission for Human Rights have launched investigation and recommended criminal trial against the officers involved.
Rizieq was sentenced to seven months in prison in 2003 after the FPI vandalized bars in Jakarta. Five years later, he again was convicted and sentenced to one and a half years for an attack on a religious freedom event at the National Monument Square in Central Jakarta.
Since 2016, he has been facing a number of police complaints over various issues from insulting state symbols and blasphemy to false communism symbol claims and alleged sexual chat with a female supporter.
He left for Saudi Arabia in 2017 amid a wave of legal cases directed against him. The government declared the FPI as forbidden organization in December, citing links to terrorism.