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Indonesian umrah pilgrim convicted in sexual harassment case in Mecca, govt confirms

Tempo - January 23, 2023

Daniel A. Fajri, Didit Hariyadi (Contributor), Jakarta – The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that a citizen named Muhammad Said or MS was sentenced in Saudi Arabia for sexually harassing a Lebanese woman while performing umrah in Mecca.

"The facts were revealed in the trial that the person was proven to have committed sexual harassment with the evidence of two eyewitnesses and direct confessions from MS," said the ministry's Director for the Protection of Indonesian Citizens, Judha Nugraha, in a written statement, Sunday, January 22, 2023.

The ministry said MS underwent a trial process after being arrested by security forces in Mecca. On December 20, 2022, MS was sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of 50,000 Saudi riyals or around Rp200 million.

However, the ministry acknowledged that the Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah did not receive any information from the Saudi authorities regarding MS's trial. Consular access to meet MS had been just granted on January 2, 2023.

"Because of this, the Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah sent a protest note to the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah also appointed a lawyer for further legal steps," Judha added.

Recently, a thread on Twitter made by an account claiming to be MS' family drew the public spotlight as it rebutted the occurrence of sexual harassment.

The account @iniakuhelmpink alias Anaa on January 21, 2023, tweeted a different chronology of the event, underlining that MS from South Sulawesi had never committed harassment as accused and was actually forced to confess by local officials.

According to the unverified account, MS was arrested during the tawaf procession. After the arrest, the local police took MS's phone and deleted the data.

The account also tweeted that the Lebanese woman victim never came to court during the trial.

As previously reported, a spokesperson for the Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah, Ajad Sudrajad, via a voice message received by the South Sulawesi's Office of Religious Affairs on Friday, January 20, 2023, said that MS confessed his actions in front of the Saudi Arabian police when undergoing questioning. Even though in front of the panel of judges, he denied committing sexual harassment.

It was informed that two security officers around the Hajar Aswad Masjidil Haram Mecca saw MS hugging the victim from behind. The CCTV footage also showed MS repeatedly sticking his body to the victim from the back. The victim then screamed when MS put his hand on the victim's breast.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1682800/indonesian-umrah-pilgrim-convicted-in-sexual-harassment-case-in-mecca-govt-confirm