I reject the verdict and appeal to the higher court against it. Thank you
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's esteemed ulema and founder of the now-defunct Islam Defenders Front (FPI) Habib Rizieq Shihab rejected the East Jakarta District Court's verdict sentencing him to four years imprisonment over the Ummi Hospital swab testing case.

"I reject the verdict and appeal to the higher court against it. Thank you," Shihab noted in response to the verdict that the court's judiciary panel, headed by Khadwanto, read out during a live-streamed court hearing on Thursday.

Judge Kadwanto handed Shihab the prison term in the Bogor City-based Ummi Hospital's swab testing case for having stirred anxiety in the community owing to his misinformation on his health condition although he was confirmed to have suffered from COVID-19 symptoms.

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However, Shihab rejected the judges' ruling that he had violated Article 14 (1) of Law No.1 of 1946 on misinformation resulting in a four-year prison term awarded to him.

One of Shihab's lawyers, Sugito Atmo Prawiro, also appealed to a higher court against the verdict although the prison term handed out to his client was lighter than the six-year imprisonment demanded by the prosecutors.

On May 27, 2021, the same district court had also sentenced Shihab to eight months in prison and imposed a fine of Rp20 million on him over breaching the country's health quarantine law in connection with several crowd-drawing events in Jakarta and Megamendung, West Java, last year.

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Owing to the case of alleged breach of the government's health protocols during a series of crowd-gathering events at his home and the FPI headquarters in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, in November 2020, Shihab was detained on December 12, 2020.

ANTARA noted that during the questioning that led to his detention, Shihab, who lost six of his guards that were killed in December last year, had to face 84 questions from the Jakarta police investigators, who charged him for violating Articles 160 and 216 of the Criminal Law.

Regarding the Shihab case, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has pressed for applying fair law enforcement in the case of Shihab to avoid any offense to the public sense of justice in communities.

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"Law must truly be used as an instrument for educating and not as an instrument for targeting," MUI Deputy Chairman Anwar Abbas had noted in a press statement last year.

Abbas emphasized that law enforcement against Shihab and his men over the cases of holding crowd-drawing events must also be imposed fairly and equally on other community members found breaching the government's COVID-19 protocols in the country.

Failing to implement the principle of fair law enforcement and public sense of justice would only create unrest among members of the public, he cautioned.
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Translator: Yogi R, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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