Muhammad Aulia, Jakarta – Controversial Muslim figure Rizieq Syihab was released on parole on Wednesday, five months before the completion of his two-year prison sentence handed to him for lying about the result of his Covid-19 diagnostic tests.
The Justice Ministry said the release was conditional and Rizieq must follow a number of programs from the Central Jakarta correctional office or the parole is revoked.
"He must refrain from actions that can potentially trigger public unrest or even worse result in criminal offenses. If that happens, his conditional release will be revoked," Justice Ministry spokeswoman Rika Aprianti said in Jakarta.
She stressed that Rizieq has been told in person about all conditions for his release.
The de facto leader of the now-defunct Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, was initially sentenced to four years in prison for spreading false claims related to his medical condition and inciting unrest last June.
But in November the Supreme Court cut his prison term by half on his appeal, with the panel of justices saying there is no proof of public unrest resulting from his actions.
Rizieq has been in detention since Dec. 12, 2020, prior to his parole. According to the law, an inmate is eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of the sentence and showing good behavior.
After arriving at his home in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, he told local media that he will "continue to fight for Muslims".
His criminal conviction is the culmination of a series of clashes between FPI and authorities following his November 2020 arrival after nearly three years of exile in Saudi Arabia.
He sparked public outrage by holding mass gatherings with disregard for the health protocol during the raging Covid-19 outbreak in the capital city.
He ignored police summonses for questioning related to the incident and a highway pursuit of his vehicle convoy a month later led to the fatal shooting of his six guards by the police. Rizieq later turned himself in to the police and was immediately detained.
The government included FPI into the list of proscribed organizations in December 2020, citing links to terrorism and violent acts against civilians.
Chief Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud MD said the FPI has been technically without any "legal standing" since June 20, 2019, when its permit expired and the government refused to renew.
"The organization has been legally disbanded but the FPI continues with activities breaching the law and order," Mahfud said at that time.
That led to a joint decision by the country's law enforcement agencies to entirely ban the FPI.
According to government data, at least 35 members or former members of the group have been implicated with terrorism and 29 of them are convicted.
Moreover, 206 FPI members were involved in other criminal acts and at least 100 of them were found guilty by the court.