Firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab has been sentenced to four years in prison after he was found guilty of creating public unrest by publicly announcing the result of a fake swab test.
The East Jakarta District Court handed the sentence this morning, which is more lenient than the six years demanded by prosecutors in the case.
In November 2020, Rizieq was admitted to Ummi Hospital in Bogor, West Java for exhaustion, those close to him claimed. By that time, a number of people he came in close contact with during mass rallies and events in the previous few weeks tested positive for the coronavirus.
The now-disbanded Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) claimed that they commissioned independent testing on Rizieq before he was admitted to the hospital, and the test came out negative. Rizieq had previously refused government-mandated testing on several occasions.
Amid the test drama, Rizieq left the hospital, and there were conflicting claims on whether he was discharged or escaped. The firebrand cleric later tested positive for the coronavirus.
The court found Rizieq guilty of spreading misinformation regarding his negative test result, which has since been established to be fake. Ummi Hospital Director Andi Tatat was also found guilty as an accomplice in the case.
This is Rizieq’s third criminal conviction since he returned to Indonesia in November 2020 after spending three years in Saudi Arabia escaping charges related to pornography back home. He was previously sentenced to eight months in prison for flaunting health protocols by holding a massive wedding for his daughter, and fined IDR20 million (US$1,383) in lieu of five months in prison for holding a mass gathering in Puncak, West Java.
Today’s hearing was marred with clashes between Rizieq’s supporters and the police, resulting in dozens of the former being rounded up by authorities.