A hard-line Islamist cleric has been handed a four-year jail term in Indonesia for spreading false information for spreading false information in a video saying he was healthy despite having tested positive for COVID-19.
Rizieq Shihab, the spiritual leader of the outlawed Islamic Defender’s Front (FPI) lied to his followers he was healthy in a YouTube video recorded in a hospital where he was in fact being treated for the virus.
Rizieq had already been given an eight-month jail term for breaching coronavirus restrictions at a series of rallies and at his daughter’s wedding—which was attended by an estimated 10,000 people.
Prosecutors had called for a six-year sentence arguing that Rizieq’s false statement had “put the community at risk.
Indonesia passed the 2 million mark in coronavirus cases on Monday, as authorities announced a tightening of restrictions to contain the spread in the world’s fourth most populous country. Deaths from COVID-19 now total 55,594.
Hundreds of Rizieq’s supporters had gathered outside the East Jakarta court amid heavy guard by police and video footage showed some scuffles.
Shortly after being sentenced, Rizieq told the court he rejected its ruling and would contest it.
Rizieq’s supporters and legal team have said the cases are politically motivated efforts to silence the cleric, who has a large and vocal following in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.