Prosecutors last month recommended prison sentences of between five months and seven months for 12 men accused of participating in the attack, from provoking violence to assault leading to death or injuries.
Last week, the court handed down sentences of only between three months and six months, prompting stern criticism from international and local human rights groups.
Deden Sujana, who was the head of security for the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) at the time, has been detained since May for allegedly inciting the Feb. 6 attack, during which three Ahmadiyah community members died.
“According to the prosecutors, the evidence proves that Deden prepared himself [for the clash],” Kiagus Ahmad, Deden’s lawyer, told the Jakarta Globe.
“The prosecutors seem to think that what Deden did was worse than the men who carried out the slaughter,” he added.
“When someone repeatedly hits someone with a rock and beats their lifeless body, that is slaughter.”
Some 1,500 people attacked the home of an Ahmadiyah community leader in Cikeusik in February, brutally killing three members of the Muslim sect, which some consider deviant.
Kiagus said prosecutors had neglected the fact that Deden was a victim in the incident.
“They said that the factors that helped reduce his sentence demand was his helpful attitude during the hearings and that he has never been convicted before,” he said.
He compared this to the prosecution’s argument for some of the attackers, namely Ujang Muhammad Arif, Muhammad bin Syarif, Endang bin Sidik and Muhammad Munir bin Basri.
“At the time, they said that the sentencing recommendation was light because they were religious leaders and there was a request from clerics and religious leaders in Banten to reduce their punishment,” he said.
Separately, Serang’s chief prosecutor, Jan Maringka, told the Jakarta Globe that his team was convinced that Deden had provoked the attack.
“He prepared weapons, spears, sickles and catapults. When the mob came, police warned him but he told them to step aside,” he said.
Jan said the mob had gone to Cikeusik for a communal prayer. “They didn’t come there to start a fight,” he added.
Meanwhile, Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the House of Representatives’ Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, said the disparity in the sentence demands was a clear indication that law enforcers had lost their impartiality.
Police and prosecutors had been taken hostage by the interests of the majority, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker said, .
“Under the current situation, law enforcers have failed to ensure tolerance, respect for the law and human rights and respect for humanity,” she said.
Eva also criticized the lack of protection for the country’s minorities. “This will only weaken our democracy,” she said. “Just remember, the biggest challenge for democracy is to provide protection for minorities.”