“I would like to say that this [verdict] could set a bad precedent because I, the victim, am sentenced in a trial held under political pressure,” Deden Sujana, the former head of security for the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI), said at the Serang District Court.
The court found Deden guilty of violent assault and disobeying police officers who had ordered him and about a dozen other Ahmadis to evacuate a home in the Cikeusik subdistrict of Pandeglang on Feb. 6. The house was surrounded by a mob of more than a thousand people who eventually attacked, killing three Ahmadis.
Deden also asked the judges why he had been convicted of violent assault, a charge that was not included in his indictment.
“I was treated the same way as the uncivilized murderers of my three friends. Where is the justice?” he said shortly after the hearing in the Banten capital.
Most of the 12 people convicted in the Cikeusik attack were sentenced last month to six months in jail by the same court.
“It’s a major failure for Indonesia, not providing protection for religious freedom. We are tired of people chanting Allahu Akbar and then killing others,” Deden said. “Religious freedom is granted by the Constitution: I have my religion, you have yours.”
The court said that Deden had ignored repeated warnings by the police to leave the home of local Ahmadiyah leader Suparman as about 1,500 people surrounded the house. Police told him they weren’t sure if they could control the mob.
“The defendant replied that he was there to secure the Ahmadiyah property and he told the officer that if the police could not cope with it, just leave, let the brawl erupt,” said the presiding judge, Sumartono.
The judges said Deden had attacked Idris bin Mahdani, one of the 12 men earlier convicted.
They said they had taken into account that “the defendant is in fact also a victim,” as he was seriously injured in the attack. The court cleared him of the more serious charge of inciting hatred.
Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Freedom and Democracy, called the Cikeusik trials a failure of the justice system.
“The system has failed and has given rise to horizontal conflicts,” Bonar told the Jakarta Globe. “The Cikeusik hearings are ironic in that sense.”
Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, called the verdict “appalling” and said it “smacks of injustice.” She pointed out that the perpetrators of the deadly assault were given three- to six-month sentences.
“It seems like Ahmadiyah faces blatant discrimination, not just from Islamic militant mobs, but also from an Indonesian court,” Pearson said. “The outcome of these trials shows that the Indonesian government should clean up its justice system.”
Additional reporting by Anita Rachman & Ulma Haryanto