Court rejects Indonesian cleric Rizieq's pretrial motion


Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel remove unauthorised banners depicting a photo of firebrand cleric and leader of the now-defunct Islam Defenders Front (FPI) Rizieq Shihab in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, on Nov. 20, 2020. - Kompas.com

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN): The South Jakarta District Court has rejected a pretrial motion filed by the leader of the now-defunct Islam Defenders Front (FPI), Rizieq Shihab, pertaining to the termination of an investigation into the firebrand cleric's alleged health protocol violations.

The sole judge Akhmad Sayuti rejected all motions filed by Rizieq, concluding that the Jakarta Police had followed proper procedures in questioning and arresting him.

"[The court] rejects all pretrial motions filed by the plaintiff," Akhmad said on Tuesday (jN 12) as quoted by tempo.co.

Police named Rizieq a suspect in mid-December for allegedly breaching Covid-19 restrictions by hosting several large gatherings in November, including the wedding of his daughter in Central Jakarta.

Most recently, the police also charged him for refusing to undergo a PCR test when he was admitted to Ummi Hospital in Bogor, West Java for what Rizieq's side claimed as exhaustion.

Rizieq's lawyer Alamsyah Hanafiah said he would consider filing a judicial review petition with the Constitutional Court to challenge the authority of sole judges in presiding over pretrial hearings in criminal cases if they lost the pretrial motion.

“We want to file a petition challenging the Criminal Law Procedures Code’s [KUHAP] provisions on sole judges, ” Alamsyah said as quoted by kompas.com.

The government has been at loggerheads with the FPI since Rizieq's return from self-exile in Saudi Arabia in November.

The feud has resulted in several incidents, most notably the shooting of six FPI members by the police and the arrest of Rizieq.

The government later moved to ban the hard-line group and its activities on the grounds that its organisational licence had expired, it had engaged in vigilantism and often caused public disorder, its statute contradicted the Pancasila state ideology and some of its members had been implicated in terrorism.

The FPI was known for its unlawful raids on brothels, bars and nightclubs, particularly during Ramadan, and for its attacks on religious minorities and any movement it perceived to be a violation of Islamic norms, including Ahmadiyah Muslims and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The intensifying crackdown by the authorities on the FPI -- a once-fringe Islamist group that now poses a serious challenge to the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo -- has sparked concerns among prodemocracy activists.

They said the ban was excessive and went against the principles of democracy and the rule of law, as it did not involve the courts, and set a bad precedent that could further curtail civil liberties.

A recent independent investigation by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) found that the killing of FPI members by the police was a human rights violation.

The rights body said the six FPI members were killed in two different circumstances: two were killed during a shoot-out between them and police officers on the Jakarta-Cikampek toll road, while the other four were killed after being placed in police custody. -The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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