Indonesian cleric jailed 4 years for concealing COVID-19 test results



Indonesian cleric jailed 4 years for concealing COVID-19 test results

An Indonesian court on Thursday sentenced an incendiary Islamic cleric to four years in prison for covering up the results of his COVID-19 test and refusing a government request for access to information.

It was the second prison sentence in as many months for Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, who is an opposition figure and who has sharply criticized the government of President Joko Widodo.

Last month, Shihab and five of his supporters were sentenced to eight months in prison for flouting coronavirus restrictions by arranging a wedding for his daughter last year.

In Thursday’s verdict, judges at the East Jakarta District Court found Shihab guilty of spreading false news by denying he had COVID-19.

His action “caused public unrest,” Chief Justice Khadwanto said.

The judge said Shihab rejected a request by the government’s COVID-19 task force to have access to the result of his COVID-19 test, which was carried out at a hospital near Jakarta.

The hospital director is also on trial for his role in the alleged cover-up.

Shihab is the founder of the Islamic Defenders Front, a vigilante group known for its anti-vice campaign.

After Shihab’s arrest in December, the government announced that the group was an illegal organization, claiming that its activities disrupted public order and that some of its supporters were involved in terrorism.

Shihab returned home in November after spending three years in Saudi Arabia to escape police questioning over charges of exchanging obscene messages online with a female supporter.

In 2018, the police dropped charges that Shihab said were fabricated because of his political activity and criticism of the government. (dpa / NAN)


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