Roies Al Hukama, 36, an extremist leader who allegedly masterminded the recent deadly attack on Shia followers in Nangkernang hamlet, Sampang regency, East Java, stood trial on Tuesday at the Surabaya District Court.
He was charged under Article 338 of the Criminal Code on murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if proven guilty.
In his indictment, prosecutor Rahmad Hari Basuki said that Roeis was regarded to have intentionally taken the life of a person named Mat Hasyim, alias Pak Hamamah.
Roeis is the younger brother of the Sampang Islamic Shia group leader, Tajul Muluk, who converted to Shia Islam, was sentenced to four years in prison claimed for blasphemy leading up to the Shia riot in Sampang, and whose case is currently under appeal at the Supreme Court.
Prosecutors also charged Roies under Article 354 on assault (maximum 10 years); Article 170 on group assault and vandalism (maximum 12 years); and other two articles on participation in a crime.
At his indictment, Rahmad said that Roies repeatedly provoked his followers to attack and kill Shiites. â€œThe defendant also incited hatred against Shia followers,â€ Rahmad told the court, which was presided over by judge Ainur Rofiq.
Rahmad added that Roies provoked his followers, the majority of Sampang residents, by saying that Shiites were infidels during his regular sermons. â€œHis sermons caused hatred against the Shia community to grow,â€ he said.
During the hearing, the defendant often shook his head as prosecutors read out the indictment.
Roies denies all the charges. â€œEverything that the prosecutors have said is untrue. I will talk to my lawyer and write my own defense statement for the next hearing,â€ he said.
Roiesâ€™ lawyer, Muhammad Raâ€™uf Syah, said the indictment was weak and that it lacked supporting evidence. â€œThe indictment is vague,â€ said Maâ€™ruf.
Roies allegedly provoked hundreds of people into burning and destroying the Islamic boarding school and home belonging to his brother Tajul Muluk in August.
During the riot, dozens of Shiite homes were razed by fire, while two Shiites were killed. Hundreds of Sampangâ€™s Shia followers were forced to take shelter in a local sports center after hundreds of extremists attacked and set their houses ablaze.
The incident was the second in under a year, following a similar attack in December last year.
Even now, dozens of Shiites who fled are unable to return to their homes because the villagers have threatened to kill them if they do.
This case is just one among several that highlight increasing discrimination and violence against minorities in the country.
Separately, the coordinator of the East Java chapter of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Andy Irfan, said he was disappointed with the indictment as the defendant was only charged with violating criminal articles.
Indonesian authorities cut off food and water supplies to displaced Shiâ€™a community in East Java. At least 190 displaced Shiâ€™a followers in East Java, including 69 women and 61 children, are at risk after local government authorities halted supplies of food and water to the community, citing a lack of funds.