Indonesian cleric gets four years for concealing COVID-19 test

JAKARTA (AP) — An influential firebrand cleric was sentenced to another four years in prison in Indonesia yesterday for concealing information about his coronavirus test result.

The three-judge panel at East Jakarta District Court, which was under heavy police and military guard, ruled that Rizieq Shihab had lied about his COVID-19 test result, which made contact tracing more difficult.

Shihab has been detained since December 13. The judges ordered the time he has already served to be deducted from his sentence.

Authorities blocked streets leading to the court as thousands of Shihab’s supporters tried to stage a rally to demand his release. Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse hard-core followers who tried to approach the court. Hundreds who refused to leave were detained.

Shihab has been facing a series of criminal trials since returning from a three-year exile in Saudi Arabia last November.

Judges at the same court on May 27 sentenced him to eight months in prison for violating health protocols by holding a religious gathering and the wedding of his daughter, both attended by thousands of supporters during the coronavirus outbreak. He was also fined IDR20 million (USD1,400) for a mass gathering in West Java.

Supporters of Indonesian cleric Rizieq Shihab face off with riot police as they gather to protest in Jakarta. PHOTO: AFP