Asni Ovier, Jakarta – The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Herry Wirawan, an Islamic boarding school teacher who was found guilty of systematically raping 13 young students and impregnating some of them.
The verdict was reached by a three-member panel presided over by Justice Sri Murwahyuni, according to the announcement published on the Supreme Court website on Tuesday.
It said the panel took the decision on December 24 of last year or 70 days after the appeal document was filed with the Supreme Court.
The rejection means that the highest court accepts the death sentence for Herry delivered earlier by the West Java High Court.
According to the Indonesian justice system, the defendant still has one last legal avenue by requesting a judicial review but this requires new evidence to prove leniency. Otherwise, Herry could request a presidential pardon.
Herry, 37, was initially sentenced to life imprisonment by the Bandung District Court which found him guilty of raping and impregnating his own students since 2016, in a case that stirred public anger across the country.
Bandung prosecutors, who demanded a death sentence for him, immediately lodged an appeal to the high court.
Herry was convicted under the tough Child Protection Law that carries the death sentence for serial child rapists.
He was fully in charge of female students entrusted at his boarding school in the West Java capital of Bandung and he misused religious symbols and teachings to molest underage students, prosecutors have said.
Courts documents reveal that several of his victims have given birth to nine babies. One victim has now had two children.
He has raped his students at his boarding schools, hotel rooms, or apartments, according to the indictment.
The West Java Police began to investigate the case in May 2021 but it wasn't until seven months later that the media learned about the shocking scandal as the court hearing began.
Police argued at that time that they didn't give public exposure to the case to "prevent further psychological and social damages on the victims."