A cleric in Indonesia has been sentenced to four years in jail for concealing the results of his Covid-19 test.
The verdict was announced on Thursday by the East Jakarta District Court, which had a heavy police presence as Rizieq Shihab’s supporters gathered outside. Judge Khadwanto said Shihab was guilty of "announcing false information and purposefully causing confusion for the public.”
Shihab refused to accept the ruling, and said he would contest it. His supporters and legal team have termed the case against him as “politically motivated”.
This comes after the same court had last month sentenced him to eight months in prison for violating coronavirus health protocols. He had held a religious gathering and the wedding of his daughter, which were both attended by thousands of people.
The gatherings happened less than a week after his arrival from a three-year exile in Saudi Arabia last November.
After the events, he was treated at Ummi Hospital in Bogor city for Covid-19, but the hospital kept it a secret, according to The Associated Press. Hospital director Andi Tatat is also being tried.
The indictment said Shihab’s false statement that he was healthy, which was aired by several news networks and shared on social media, put the community at risk.
Indonesia is witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths with a record 15,308 new infections being reported on Wednesday. Its overall case tally has reached 2,033,421 and fatalities stand at 55,594.
Shihab’s son-in-law Hanif Alatas has also been sentenced to two years in jail for being an accessory to the crime. Prosecutors called for a six-year sentence for Shihab and a two-year sentence for Alatas.
Shihab was the leader of Islam Defenders Front, known by the Indonesian acronym FPI, which was outlawed by the government in December.