JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A former Indonesian human rights lawyer who joined a radical Islamic group was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for inciting the establishment of a caliphate in a secular country.
The three-judge panel of the East Jakarta District Court found Munarman guilty of concealing from authorities information about militants who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in January 2015 in Makassar, the capital of the southern province. of Sulawesi, and instead “made a speech urging people to carry their arms”. acts of terrorism.
“The defendant does not support the government’s program to eradicate terrorism,” the presiding judge said in the decision.
Munarman, 53, who goes by one name, was the secretary general of the now-banned Islam Defenders Front, widely known by the Indonesian acronym FPI, which has a long history of nightclub vandalism, stone-throwing at Western embassies and rival religious attacks. groups. He wants Islamic Sharia to apply to Indonesia’s 230 million Muslims.
Police arrested Munarman in April 2021 after questioning dozens of suspected militants following the Palm Sunday bombing outside a Roman Catholic cathedral on March 28, 2021, which killed two suicide bombers and injured 20 people.
The judges ordered that the time he had already served be deducted from his sentence.
Munarman was a former human rights activist and lawyer before joining the FPI. He represented the group’s leader, Rizieq Shihab, an influential cleric who was sentenced to four years in prison last year.
Munarman was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008 after his group attacked a religious event in Jakarta’s national monument park that injured dozens of attendees.
During the trial, which began in December, Munarman denied any wrongdoing and said he faced political persecution in an effort to silence his critics of the government. He denied that the FPI supported the Islamic State group.
Police said they obtained videos showing Munarman pledging allegiance to IS. He told the court he couldn’t avoid it because he was invited to an event.
Munarman and prosecutors, who had requested an eight-year prison sentence against him, said they would appeal Wednesday’s verdict.
The government banned the FPI in December 2020, saying it had no legal basis to operate as a civilian organization and that its activities often violated the law and caused public unrest.
Indonesia has been battling militancy since the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group carried out bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. Attacks targeting foreigners have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, police, counter-terrorism forces and people considered by militants to be infidels.