The trial of Angelina Sondakh, a corruptor from the Democratic Party, has ended with the former Indonesian beauty queen receiving only a four-and-a-half-year sentence. The sentence is six and a half years lighter than what the prosecutor had sought. In addition, the court has also ordered her to pay Rp 250 million (US$25,906) in fines or serve six additional months in prison if she can’t pay the fine. This sentence sounds low compared with what Angie had done. She was found guilty of corrupting more than Rp 34,90 billion (US$3,6 million) which belongs to the Indonesian people.
The sentence is contrast to the one the South and West Jakarta District Courts have given to terrorists. In 2010 and 2011 the courts sentenced the terrorists linked to the Aceh militant training camp held by JAT between four to fifteen years imprisonment. In average, they have been sentenced to eight years.
Andri Marlan Syahputra, an Acehnese terrorist, accepted eight years imprisonment sentence. He understands the consequences of his terrorism activities in which he took part in the shootings of the head of the German Red Cross and the houses of American teachers in Aceh and the granade throwing of the Aceh UNICEF office. However, some others such as Abu Rimba, who was sentenced to seven years in prison, did not accept the sentence and felt that they have been treated unjustly. To understand the growing feeling of injustice among terrorists and to know whether this feeling is valid, we need to know them one by one.
As an example, let us take the case of Abu Rimba. He is a jihad illiterate man whose one of income sources was his job as a local guide in his area. He does not only lack jihad knowledge, but also does not support waging jihad in Aceh or Indonesia. He does not agree with the killing of Indonesian police officers or other government officials either. He took part in the training camp because he was manipulated by his recruiter from the Tandzim Al Qaeda in Serambi Makkah who kept insisting to hire him for his service as a local guide. When he refused to participate in the training camp, he was again asked to guide the training participants to the camp’s location. He did what he did because he thought he was just doing his profession as a guide for money to help his parents feed his family. In addition, when he found that the people in the training camp were using weapon, he was told that the training was for the jihad in Palestine. When he decided not to participate in the camp, he was given a rifle to take home and he was told that it would be used for the jihad in Palestine against Israelis—the kind of jihad that he supports.
When the West Jakarta District Court sentenced him to 7 years in prison, Abu Rimba was unhappy. He felt that he was given wrong sentence and that he should be given lighter sentence for being manipulated and his minor roles in the training camp. He was even more surprised when his recruiter, Yudi Zulfahri who is also the facilitator and logistics supplier for the training camp, was only sentenced to 9 years.
Abu Rimba is not alone. Muchsin Kamal who was sentenced to 8 years also feels the same way. He was willing to take part in the training camp for three days because he was told that it was for the jihad in Palestine, not Aceh nor Indonesia.
Is it safe to assume that some terrorists such as Abu Rimba has been treated unjustly by our courts? Perhaps we can take another example of from the case of Dr. Syarif Usman, who played an important role by providing Rp 200 million ($23,000) and a video camera to the Aceh camp. The South Jakarta District Court only sentenced him to 4.5 years. His role was more important than Abu Rimba, yet his sentence is much lighter.
We can also compare Abu Rimba with Angie and other corruptors who have been sentenced lightly despite the devastating effects she has caused to the nation through their immoral actions. Indonesian Corruption Watch in last February last 2011 released a statement saying that in average of those involved in corruption are only sentenced to 2 years. This is shown by the high profile case of Artalyta Suryani alias Ayin who bribed a prosecutor for USD 660,000. She was only sentenced to 4.5 years; and yet she was imprisoned for just 2 years and 9 months.
It is not a good news for us when we have some disgruntled newly recruitted terrorists such as Abu Rimba who perceives that he has been given a wrong sentence. This can bring out some negative impacts on the futute of terrorism in Indonesia.
Firstly, it causes growing anger and sense of injustice toward
the government—so called local grievances. If these feelings are not solved, they will lead to terrorism which keeps targetting Indonesian government. Secondly, it confirms jihadist teachings regarding Indonesia as an infidel state and the Indonesian government officers as apostates—thus, they can be killed. The jihadist teachings state that in an infidel state like Indonesia justice won’t be found. They also teach that justice and laws can only be upheld if they are Islamic and an Islamic state should be established—through violent jihad—to create a place for the implementation of the Islamic law and justice.
People like Abu Rimba who previously did not really believe in the teachings will start to think that they are true and he will act according to the teachings in future. This lead to third impact which is recidivism. Angered people like Abu Rimba will met up with similar people and create a bond. They will learn about violent jihad and terrorism methods or tactics from senior terrorists in prisons. When they are released from prison, they will regroup and launch terrorist attacks.
Today, to prevent this from happening the office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights should treat corruptors similarly to terrorists to give a sense of justice not only to the terrorists but also the Indonesian society in general.
Unfortunately, in addition to a few terrorists who have been treated unfairly; there are also terrorists who have received extraordinarily light sentences. They include Jhoni Idris who wasn’t even convicted for his role in the Bali bombings, even though he played a key role. The fact is that the Indonesian legal system is rotten, and that comprehensive reform, that addresses all aspects of justice, is critical if citizens are to have faith that the guilty will be punished, whether they are terrorists or corruptors.
In terms of turning extremists against the government, the excessive use of force or unnecessary killings is a far more important factor than a few unjust sentences. It’s not the Abu Rimbas of this world that are going to cause a problem for police. It’s the younger brothers of the slain terrorists such as Soesilo, killed with Noordin, or Abu Uswah.
By the end of the day, terrorists—especially those who play minor roles and manipulated by hard core terrorists—are Indonesian citizens and ordinary humans. They fell into the trap of terrorists recruitters such as Abu Bakar Baasyir and Dulmatin who manipulated them to achieve the recruitter’s political agendas. Justice for them is justice for Indonesian citizen and giving them a sense of Indonesian justice is a start for an ideal deradicalization or rehabilitation program.