In the first hearing at the Cibinong District Court, judges ruled that Dede Novi, 19, and Aldi Afriansyah, 21, were guilty of attacking a mosque belonging to the minority Muslim sect in Cisalada village on Oct. 1, 2010.
The attack in Cisalada, home to about 600 followers of Ahmadiyah, also targeted homes and schools of the group, which has come under increasing attack by Islamic hard-liners in Bogor and other parts of West Java.
Dede and Aldi were ordered jailed for six months and given a year’s probation. The sentence handed down was lighter than the nine months prosecutors had sought.
Judge Astriwati, presiding over the hearing, said one of the facts in favor of the two defendants was the lights at the mosque had been turned off at the time of the attack, so it was not entirely clear to what extent they were involved in the incident.
However, the judge stressed that Dede and Aldi were definitely in the group of around 30 locals who ransacked the mosque.
“A witness testified to seeing the defendants carry out the vandalism,” she said.
San Alauddin, a lawyer for the defendants, said after the sentencing that he would leave the decision of whether to appeal up to the families of the defendants.
In the second case heard on Wednesday, the court sentenced 13-year-old Akbar Ramanda to four months in prison and eight months’ probation for the same offense. Prosecutors had sought five months in jail for the minor.
For all three defendants, Astriwati said the main mitigating factor prompting the lighter sentences was that “they are all young and have their whole life ahead of them.”
Eviarti, the chief prosecutor in all the cases, said her office would have to consider appealing the light sentences. Prosecutors typically only appeal if the final sentence is less than two-thirds of their demands. The prosecution and defense have seven days to file an appeal.
There was a heavy police presence at the court in anticipation of violence by the defendants’ supporters, more than 500 of whom turned up. Six hundred officers and riot control personnel from the Bogor Police checked everyone going into the courthouse.
Mukhtar, an official from the Bogor branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which has repeatedly called for the disbanding of Ahmadiyah, said before the hearing that if the three were not acquitted, “there will be problems later.”