Denpasar. A court in Bali has drawn the wrath of child protection activists over its relatively lenient 18-month jail sentence for a rapist after he offered to marry the 14-year-old victim.
Komang Aditya Pratama, 19, should have faced a minimum of three years in prison, and up to 15, under the charges brought against him from the 2002 Child Protection Law, after he raped the girl multiple times last year.
“This is not right at all and completely inappropriate,” Siti Sapura, an activist from the Denpasar Child Protection Institute, or LPA, who has followed the case from the beginning, told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday.
She lambasted the judges at the Denpasar District Court for failing to uphold the spirit of the child protection law, and accused prosecutors of “playing cat and mouse” to keep the victim’s family in the dark about the charges and punishment they were seeking against the defendant.
Siti also questioned why the verdict hearing on Wednesday was open to the press, in clear violation of the law, which requires trials involving minors to be heard behind closed doors.
Aditya was arrested by police in Denpasar in February after the family of the 14-year-old girl reported him to the police for raping her on several occasions last year. The girl is currently seven months’ pregnant.
It is not clear why the girl or her family did not report the rapes at the time they happened, around October last year.
Dewa Puspa Adnyana, the sole judge presiding over the trial, ruled on Wednesday that Aditya should serve 18 months in jail, including time already served. He cited as mitigating circumstances the fact that Aditya had no criminal record and had “promised not to repeat the offense.”
The judge also noted Aditya’s “goodwill offer” to marry the victim and “be responsible for the baby” — a notion that the girl’s family has vehemently rejected.
Before the start of Wednesday’s hearing, the judge also raised eyebrows for not clearing the courtroom of all reporters, as required in hearings involving minors.
“OK, you can stay, but don’t crowd the place,” he told the reporters in attendance.
Prosecutors said they were satisfied with the final ruling, arguing that Aditya was 18 at the time he raped the victim and thus should be treated as a minor, for which he would only face half the sentence prescribed in the law.
Under Indonesian law, however, anyone 18 or older is not considered a minor.
The ruling sparked a commotion in the courtroom as the victim’s brother walked up to the judge’s table to question the leniency of the sentence. Other members of the family later tried to mob Aditya as he was escorted out of the room.
Prosecutors have said they will not mount an appeal for a longer sentence.