Police have put on hold their investigation into a pornography case allegedly involving firebrand Islamic Defenders Front cleric Rizieq Shihab, center, who is currently on the run in Saudi Arabia. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

W. Java Police Consider Placing Rizieq Shihab in Custody


FEBRUARY 02, 2017

Jakarta. Police are considering whether to detain cleric Rizieq Shihab, leader of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, after he was named a suspect for insulting Pancasila – the official state ideology.

West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan said subjective requirements have to be considered before detaining suspects, such as the possibility that they might interfere with witnesses, tamper with evidence, attempt to flee, or commit more crime.

"If the person [Rizieq] has those indications, we can arrest him," Anton said in Jakarta on Tuesday (31/01).

Rizieq is facing charges under articles 154a and 320 of the Criminal Law, which carry a maximum sentence of four years' imprisonment for insults against state symbols and nine months' imprisonment for defamation of a deceased person – in this case, one of Indonesia's founding fathers.

"So far, [the sentence] is four years for the insult against state symbols," Anton said. He added that Rizieq would be summoned again next week.

"Afterwards, he will be confronted with the evidence, as he did not admit that it was him during the first screening of a video [purportedly showing Rizieq insulting Pancasila]," Anton said.

He reiterated an earlier call on Rizieq not to mobilize his supporters during the questioning session.

"[This matter] is not [against] a certain group, as we are dealing with individuals. This is an individual that may be at guilt, due to a report [against him] by another person. With the available evidence and witnesses, I think there is no need to exaggerate [the issue]," Anton said.

He added that mass action by Rizieq's supporters during the questioning session will disturb the public order. Aside from that, members of the West Java community differ from those in other parts of Indonesia, in that they will be offended if confronted by protestors, Anton added.

"What is the urgency of bringing supporters? It is only an ordinary legal process, just come. Nobody who has ever been questioned, brought masses to back them up," he said.

The West Java Police charged Rizieq following a report by Sukmawati Sukarnoputri, one of former President Sukarno's daughters, on Oct. 27 last year.

This is just one of several criminal cases Rizieq currently faces.

The firebrand cleric is also under investigation for allegedly illegally occupying state land in Megamendung, a subdistrict of Bogor, West Java.

The cleric is further implicated in an alleged plot against the government in December last year, while he also faces a series of lawsuits brought against him by various groups.