No more instant piety: AGO to ban defendants scoring sympathy points by donning religious garb

Pinangki Sirna Malasari with no hijab for a selfie (Left) and with a hijab during her corruption trial.
Pinangki Sirna Malasari with no hijab for a selfie (Left) and with a hijab during her corruption trial.

If you did the crime, you can’t suddenly wear a hijab or a kopiah to save yourself from doing the time, as Indonesia’s attorney general is set to enforce new dress codes preventing defendants from donning religious garb during their trial just to score sympathy points.

Attorney General ST Burhanuddin said those who don’t normally wear religious clothing will be barred from entering the court if they suddenly decide to be pious in appearance. The measure will be taken to prevent religious garb from being falsely associated with crime.

“To emphasize this, we will soon issue a circular to all district attorneys across Indonesia,” the Attorney General’s Office spokesman Ketut Sumedana said yesterday evening.

“Out of nowhere, they appear pious during their trial. We’ll level the playing field. What’s important is they dress respectfully in court.”

The AGO did not name specific cases in their crusade against instant piety. 

However, one notable recent case involved the AGO’s own disgraced prosecutor Pinangki Sirna Malasari, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in February 2021 after she was found guilty of accepting a US$500,000 bribe from former corruption fugitive Djoko Tjandra.

That sentence was eventually reduced to four years, essentially because the court took pity on her because she’s a woman. But we digress.

Pinangki wore the Islamic hijab during her trial, even though she never regularly wore the head covering before her arrest. After her trial, she was photographed without her hijab as she headed to the Tangerang Penitentiary to serve her time.

Pinangki Sirna Malasari with her hijab off as she begins serving her time at the Tangerang Penitentiary. Photo: Handout

But then again, who are we (or the AGO, for that matter) to decide whether or not one’s religious epiphany — at least in the fashion sense — is genuine?

Take former lawmaker Angelina Sondakh, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption. The Miss Indonesia winner, who converted to Islam in 2008, did not wear the hijab during her trial at the Corruption Court in 2012. Angelina, however, scarfed up for subsequent appeals and when giving her testimony in other corruption cases. 

After completing her sentence in April 2022, Angelina’s hijab has stayed on in every public appearance she has made since.

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