An Indonesian high court accepted prosecutors’ appeal and sentenced the principal of an Islamic boarding school to death for raping at least 13 students over five years and impregnating some of them.
Heri Virawan was convicted and sentenced to prison by a three-judge panel at the Bandung District Court in February. He was accused of raping girls aged 11 to 14 from 2016 to 2021 in a school, hotel or rented apartment in the city of West Java. At least nine children were reportedly born as a result of the rape.
His case caused a public outcry as there were many victims over the years. Police said the victims were so scared that they could not tell anyone.
Judges of the Bandung High Court in their ruling on Monday agreed to prosecutors’ appeals for the death penalty and confiscation of Virawan’s assets.
“What he did caused trauma and suffering to the victims and their parents,” the court said in the ruling released on its website on Tuesday. “The defendant had tarnished the reputation of Islamic boarding schools.”
The lower court ordered Indonesia’s Ministry of Child Protection to pay US$23,200 in combined compensation requested by the victims and between $600 and $6,000 for medical and psychological treatment for each girl, instead of confiscation of Virawan’s assets. Had given.
But the high court ruled his property to be confiscated, including the foundation he owned, and auctioned off to benefit the victims and their children.
The judges also ruled that nine children born to victims should be handed over to the Child and Women Protection Agency with periodic evaluation “until the victims are mentally prepared to care for their children, and The situation allows their children to be returned to the victims.”
Appeals court judges rejected prosecutors’ request for chemical castration, saying that someone sentenced to death or life imprisonment may not be subject to punishment other than the revocation of certain rights.
Viraavan’s lawyer Ira Mambo said she would advise her client to appeal against the sentence in the Supreme Court. They have seven days to do so before the court’s decision is final.
Viraavan accepted his guilt and apologized to his victims and their families during the trial.
West Java police launched an investigation into the matter and arrested Virawan last May after a victim’s parents went to police after their daughter returned home on leave and admitted that she had just given birth.
The matter did not become public until November, when court proceedings began. Police said they are waiting to publicize this to prevent further psychological and social damage to the victims.
In January, President Joko Widodo said he was concerned about cases of sexual abuse in Islamic boarding schools and called on parliament to intensify deliberations on a bill on sexual violence. Conservative lawmakers and Islamic groups want the bill to include a ban on extramarital sex and same-sex relationships.