The Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregration (JAI) says it will not seek further legal action against the hard-liners given lenient sentences for instigating a riot in which three Ahmadis were beaten to death.
The JAI, a repeated target of violence by Muslim hard-liners who accuse it of straying from Islam, said that the Ciekusik riot case was over.
“The families of the victims have forgiven all the attackers. They are fine now,” JAI spokesman Zafrullah A. Pontoh said. “We deeply regret that we had to lose three of our members. But we will not prolong the conflict by reporting the murder cases,” he added.
However, the incident would not deter the group from practicing or defending their beliefs, he said.
Several legal experts have suggested that the Ahmadis file another report following the Serang District Court’s decision to sentence 12 hard-liners to jail for terms ranging from three to six months for involvement in the attack.
The same court sent Deden Darmawan Sudjana, an Ahmadi man who was critically injured in the attack, to prison for six months for defying an order to leave the area where the mob was ready to ransack the assets of Ahmadi community members.
Human rights activists, foreign governments and legal experts have agreed that the verdicts were unfair.
Criminal law expert Yesmil Anwar of Padjajaran University in Bandung, West Java, said that the trials should not have ended with such light sentences. “We cannot merely say it was an unanticipated tragedy. Indonesia is a state of laws. All crimes, regardless of whether they are committed intentionally or unintentionally, should be investigated fairly,” he said.
Yesmil said that the outcome of the legal proceedings was partisan and unfair to the Ahmadis. “The ultimate goal of the judicial system should be justice for victims.”
Yesmil said the Ahmadis should continue to fight. “File a new case that focuses on the murder of its three members,” he said. “If the Ahmadis file a report for murder, the police should respond by holding an investigation. All of us can keep our eyes on the investigation to make sure the police do their job.”
Yesmil also questioned the judges’ decision to sentence Deden under article 212 of the Criminal Code for acting against the state, which was not part of the indictment submitted by prosecutors. Deden had only been charged with physical abuse and inciting hatred.
“The judges’ decision has gone too far away from the real point of the case,” he said.
Another criminal law expert, Eddy S. Hiariej of Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University, said it was not usual for judges to expand upon the indictment submitted by prosecutors. “Judges determine the sentence based on the prosecutors’ demand. In this case, the judges considered another charge,” he said.
However, Eddy said, the practice, while uncommon, was allowed. “The judges can do so if they see another violation of the law,” he said.
Hasril Hartanto, a criminal law expert from the University of Indonesia in Depok, likened the sentence to a compromise. “The prosecutors saw their priorities as stabilizing the social situation first, then justice,” he said.
“Prosecutors might have faced an unpleasant situation if they supported the Ahmadis. For the sake of social security, they chose to make the minority suffer,” he said.
On Tuesday, activists from various organizations, including the Indonesia Legal Aid Institution Foundation, the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, Kontras, Imparsial, Elsam, and the Human Rights Working Group, issued a statement condemning Deden’s sentence. “We criticize law enforcement’s unwillingness to pursue the case fairly for the minority Ahmadi,” Kiagus Ahmad Bella Sati of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute said. Ahmad, who also represented Deden, said he activists demanded that the Court Commission investigate prosecutors in the case.