Indonesia mob trial ‘sends chilling message’


An Indonesian court sent a “chilling message” Thursday by giving Muslim extremists light sentences for a vicious mob attack in which three sect members died, rights activists said.
Twelve people stood trial but none faced murder charges in what human rights campaigners said was a travesty of justice in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. The sentences ranged from between three and six months’ jail — less than prosecutors had sought and well below the maximum penalty of 12 years.
Dani bin Misra, a 17-year-old who repeatedly smashed a victim’s skull with a stone, was sentenced to three months in jail for manslaughter.
Idris bin Mahdani, who led the 1,500-strong mob in the February attack, was convicted of illegal possession of a machete and received five months and 15 days in jail.
Most of the convicted men are likely to walk free within weeks, observers said.
“The Cikeusik trial sends the chilling message that attacks on minorities like the Ahmadiyah will be treated lightly by the legal system,” Human Rights Watch deputy chief for Asia Phil Robertson told AFP.
“This is a sad day for justice in Indonesia.”
In rare criticism of its Southeast Asian ally, the United States said it was “disappointed by the disproportionately light sentences”, which came
within days of a visit to Indonesia by US Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton.
“The United States encourages Indonesia to defend its tradition of tolerance for all religions, a tradition praised by President (Barack) Obama in his November 2010 visit to Jakarta,” a US embassy statement said.