22 Jan 2011

Indonesian Muslim cleric gets 4 years for child 'bride' sex abuse, court uses child protection law instead of marriage law



Jakarta Globe - Indonesia November 25, 2010

Indonesian Cleric Sentenced to 4 Years in Child Bride Case

by Candra Malik



Semarang. In a decision being hailed as a legal breakthrough, a district court in Central Java on Wednesday sentenced a wealthy Muslim cleric to four years in prison for sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl he took as his unofficial wife.

Pujiono Cahyo Widianto, 45, also known as Sheikh Puji, said he would appeal the verdict, which also imposed a Rp 60 million ($7,000) fine.

Pujiono’s unofficial marriage in August 2008 to the 12-year-old girl sparked nationwide outrage, with critics accusing the cleric of practicing legalized pedophilia.

The Anti-Corruption Civil Society Coalition (Kompak) filed a police report against him, but in October 2009, the Ungaran District Court in Semarang acquitted him.

The Attorney General’s Office challenged the ruling.

Pujiono has defended his unofficial second marriage by saying the girl had reached puberty and that he had his wife’s approval.

He has said his marriage was valid under Islamic law, though not under civil law, which mandates a minimum age of 16 for females to marry.

However, the district court did not use the 1974 Marriage Law to convict Pujiono.

“The court found Pujiono guilty of violating the 2002 Child Protection Act by marrying an underage girl,” said Hari Mulyanto, the presiding judge.

Seto Mulyadi, chairman of the National Child Protection Commission (Komnas Anak), said the court had made a breakthrough by not using the 1974 Marriage Law.

“The sentence confirmed that a man marrying a minor, especially as an unofficial wife, is illegal,” he said.

Though Indonesian law has harsh penalties for pedophilia, unregistered and therefore unofficial marriages of older men to underage girls are common in rural areas.

Seto said he wished Pujiono had been given a longer sentence. He said a man in North Sumatra was sentenced to eight years in prison in a similar case three years ago, but it did not attract media attention.

Suningsih, a member of the prosecution team, said they were still considering whether to appeal the decision.

“The sentence handed down by the court was two years lighter than our demand of six years in prison. But it is better than letting him off on the charges,” she said.

Ummi Hani, Pujiono’s first wife, and Lutfiana Ulfa, the child bride, wept in the courtroom when the verdict was read.

Seto urged the court to return the underage girl to her rightful guardians — her parents.

“In time, when she is over 18, she may accept Pujiono and marry him officially,” he said.


This article was found at:

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/indonesian-cleric-sentenced-to-4-years-in-child-bride-case/408420


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