Rizieq Shihab in Prison
The defendant in the swab test case at the Ummi Hospital in Bogor, Rizieq Shihab, has been found guilty of committing the crime of participating in broadcasting false news and causing trouble.
Rizieq’s verdict was read out by the panel of judges in the East Jakarta District Court courtroom on Thursday 24th June.
“Stating that Muhammad Rizieq Shihab has been legally and convincingly proven to have committed a four-year prison sentence,” said Chief Justice Khadwanto.
Rizieq Shihab is an Indonesian, hardline, Islamist scholar and the founder and leader of the Islamist group Islamic Defenders Front, or Front Pembela Islam (FPI). The organisation was banned by the government in December 2020.
The religious leader was deemed to have violated article 14 paragraph (1), subsidiary to article 14 paragraph (2), more subsidiary to article 15 of law number 1 of 1946, concerning the criminal law regulations in conjunction with article 55 paragraph (1) of the first Criminal Code.
The verdict is lighter than that proposed by the public prosecutor. In their considerations, the panel of judges took into account that the accusations of spreading false news and causing trouble had been fulfilled.
During the hearing, Rizieq claimed to be in good condition and healthy at the time. However, when Rizieq arrived at the Ummi Hospital in Bogor, he underwent an antigen swab which returned reactive results.
These results were known by Rizieq. His status at that time was that of a probable COVID-19 patient, and was awaiting further results of a PCR test conducted by the MER-C team.
“The panel of judges believe that the defendant broadcast a false news notification because the defendant himself was a probable patient at that time,” said the judge.
Regarding the charge of causing trouble, the judges thought Rizieq knew that the false news he had announced would have a bigger impact because he was a religious figure with a large number of followers. Moreover, Rizieq made this statement in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The panel of judges is of the opinion that the defendant’s actions were in the category of intentional, in the possibility that the element of intentionally causing trouble is fulfilled,” said the judge.
Following this verdict, Rizieq and the prosecutor both filed an appeal. Prosecutors previously pushed for a sentence of six years for Rizieq on this charge.
Based on the prosecutor’s demands, the defendant asked to be released purely related to the swab test case at the Bogor Ummi Hospital. This was conveyed by Rizieq when reading his memorandum of defence in the main courtroom of the East Jakarta District Court on Thursday 10th June.
“To the panel of judges, Your Honour, we ask from the bottom of my heart to make a decision with confidence to stop the unfair legal process against me and my friends,” said Rizieq.
According to Rizieq, this is to fulfil a sense of justice while at the same time saving the legal order and the wheels of justice in the country which, according to him, is being undermined by evil forces who are anti-religious and anti-Pancasila.
Rizieq also asked that the two other defendants in the swab test case at the Ummi Hospital, Muhammad Hanif Alatas and Andi Tatat, to be released.
Previously, Rizieq said, the case of the Ummi Hospital swab test was a political case, wrapped and packaged with a legal case.