Suspended FPI Leader Claims Courtroom Conspiracy

The Jakarta Globe

Bekasi. The suspended head of the Bekasi branch of the notorious Islamic Defenders Front has rejected prosecution demands that he be jailed for six months for his role on leaders of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in Bekasi last year.

The lawyer for Murhali Barda, Shalih Manggara Sitompul, told the Bekasi District Court on Monday that prosecutors had manipulated the case because they had presented wrong facts during the trial.

“All of the facts presented in the hearings, all of the witnesses, said that they did not see Murhali Barda commit unpleasant conduct regarding the September 12 attack,” Shalih told the court.

“But the prosecutors have attempted to present the facts that occurred on August 1 and 8, when the Ciketing residents launched a protest against the HKBP’s plan to build a church there, while the trial is actually about the September 12 incident,” he said.

“Therefore, we hope that the judge will be fair in his verdict and release Murhali immediately.”

Last week, prosecutors stunned the courtroom when they demanded a six-month jail term for Barda, who was initially accused of inciting the attack through text messages and radio speeches as well as through his personal Facebook page.

Shalih said the prosecutors had manipulated the facts of the case due to outside pressure.

During the trial, the hard-liner stunned judges and the gallery at his trial by bursting into tears and advocating social harmony.

The FPI strongman is one of 13 standing trial for the stabbing of Asia Sihombing and beating of the Rev. Luspida Simandjuntak.

The attack took place as the congregation was its way to Ciketing, where it had been holding services after authorities sealed off the house it was using as a church in nearby Pondok Timur Indah.

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