Firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab, leader of the now-outlawed Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), has been named a criminal suspect once again, further complicating his troubles with the law since his return to Indonesia in November.
The National Police Crime Investigation Agency (Bareskrim) today announced that Rizieq has been charged with violation of Law No. 4/1984 on Outbreak of Infectious Diseases as he was accused of avoiding a mandatory swab test to screen for the coronavirus. His son-in-law, Hanif Alatas, and the director of Ummi Hospital in Bogor, Andi Tatat, were also charged for alleged complicity in the crime.
In late November, Rizieq checked into Ummi to be treated for what he claimed was exhaustion. At the same time, local health authorities ordered a PCR test on Rizieq over suspicions that he may have contracted COVID-19 from mass rallies held in his honor following his return from Saudi Arabia a couple of weeks prior.
Rizieq did not undergo said mandatory PCR test (though he claimed to have been tested independently of the government, which came out negative), while the other two suspects were accused of aiding him in ignoring the mandate.
If found guilty, the suspects may each face up to four months in prison.
Rizieq is now a suspect for three different cases since his return to Indonesia. Previously, he was separately charged with incitement to commit crime by being named responsible for drawing mass gatherings to his daughter’s wedding in Jakarta, as well as a mass gathering in Megamendung, Bogor. Both events took place in November.
Rizieq may face up to six years in prison for those cases.
Rizieq returned to Indonesia on Nov. 10, ending more than three years of self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia escaping charges related to pornography, and was greeted by thousands of his followers.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!