Jailed for loud speaker atttack
PRAYA, 16 December 2010 – An Indonesian court on Wednesday sentenced a foreign guest house owner, who promoted tourism on Lombok Island, to five months in jail for blasphemy for pulling the plug on a mosque’s loudspeaker during a prayer reading.
The August 22 incident during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan resulted in retired Californian engineer Gregory Luke, 64, needing a police escort from his home on Lombok island as a mob tore it to pieces around him.
“He was found guilty of committing blasphemy, carrying out an act of violence and hampering people in Kute village from doing their religious activities,” chief judge Suhartoyo told a court in Praya, Lombok.
Luke had previously denied pulling the plug, but in a brief comment Wednesday said he was “satisfied” with the judges’ ruling.
The verdict was two months lighter than the jail term sought by prosecutors a day earlier. The Indonesian criminal code stipulates that an act of blasphemy carries a maximum five-year jail term.
Setting out mitigating circumstances, the judge said: “The defendant has never committed a crime before, acted politely during the trial and expressed regret for his act. He also participated in promoting tourism here.”
Luke, who runs a guesthouse for tourists on the islands, will get his freedom back in mid-February 2011.
Wearing a sarong, polo shirt and black Muslim hat, he said outside the courtroom that he accepted the ruling.
“I’m quite satisfied with the judges’ decision,” he said with a smile.
Luke has previously denied pulling the plug on the loudspeakers used to broadcast the call to prayer — a feature on most mosques in Indonesia.
In comments to local media, he has said he went to the mosque to ask for the volume to be turned down and was set upon by a group of local youths, who pushed him to the ground and pelted him with rocks.
A mob then chased him to his home and ransacked it as police looked on, apparently unable to intervene, he said. No one has been charged with any offence related to the mob attack on his house.
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