Ex-Minister Roy Suryo Convicted of Hate Speech
Jakarta. Former sports minister Roy Suryo was found guilty of spreading hatred and sentenced to nine months in prison by the West Jakarta District Court on Wednesday evening.
Roy was tried after he retweeted a picture of a Buddhist statue edited to resemble the face of President Joko Widodo.
He was initially reported to the police for alleged blasphemy by a Buddhist community but the judge instead used the Electronic Information and Transaction Law to convict the defendant.
Roy was proven guilty of disseminating information that incited hatred and hostilities among individuals, Presiding Judge Martin Ginting told the hearing. He however refused to fine Roy as recommended by prosecutors.
Prosecutors have demanded a sentence of 1.5 years in prison and a fine of Rp 300 million ($19,000) for Roy.
Lead prosecutor Tri Mukti said his team will lodge an appeal against the verdict.
The defense meanwhile said they need to discuss with Roy, who followed the hearing remotely, whether they will appeal.
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Roy, who served as minister from 2013-14 during the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono presidency, has been detained since early August. Police also seized his cellular phone and Twitter account “in the interest of the ongoing investigation”.
The Democratic Party politician was initially charged under Article 156a of the Criminal Code on blasphemy which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, in addition to the Law on Electronic Information and Transaction for allegedly fomenting hatred using information technology.
He was named a suspect in July after a representative of the Buddhist community Buddha Nusantara lodged a police complaint when his now-deleted post went viral, suggesting that the former minister has offended Buddhist followers in the country.
Roy has since publicly apologized to the Buddhist community and argued that he had no intention to offend them.
He also said he is not the person who doctored the picture and has reported the Twitter account that published the original post to the police.