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Indonesian Court jails Cleric for concealing COVID test result

[Rizieq Shihab the leader of the banned Islamic Defender's Front.Photo/courtesy]

A religious leader of the banned Islamic Defender’s Front (FPI), Rizieq Shihab, had been given a court verdict of 4 years imprisonment by the East Jakarta district court for spreading false information about the results of his COVID-19 test.

The court deemed Shihab guilty of spreading false information and causing public disruption.

Rizieq was charged with spreading false information after he posted a video on YouTube claiming he was healthy despite having tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, the 55-year-old was being treated at the Ummi Hospital in Bogor, a city just outside the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

In a streamed broadcast, Judge Khadwanto said Rizieq was guilty of “announcing false information and purposefully causing confusion for the public.”

Indonesia passed the 2 million mark in coronavirus cases on Monday, as authorities announced a tightening of restrictions to contain the spread in the world’s fourth most populous country. Deaths from COVID-19 now total 55,594.

Prior to the sentencing, hundreds of Rizieq’s supporters had gathered outside the East Jakarta Court. Police later fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse followers who tried to approach the court.