An Indonesian Islamic teacher has been sentenced to death by firing squad for impregnating at least eight female students – a first sentencing of its kind.
Herry Wirawan, 36, got the girls pregnant between 2016 and 2021 at a boarding school he operated for those from poorer backgrounds.
A court was told his young victims gave birth while still at the learning facility and their babies were used to secure more donations for the school.
Wirawan was first given a life sentence in February, but the High Court in Bandung, Indonesia have now changed it to the death penalty.
Herri Swantoro, presiding judge, said the defendant had deeply hurt his victims. and committed “the most serious crime”.
It is the first time a death sentence has been handed down by Indonesian authorities in a sexual assault case, sparking protest from those opposed to capital punishment.
Wirawan, the court heard, had been sexually abusing students since 2016 when he opened the boarding school in Bandung city in West Java.
It was an Islamic school which lured students in with offers of scholarships for young people from the poverty-stricken area.
Wirawan’s crime prompted anger in Indonesia over sexual violence rates and abuse of women, and also sparked calls for a sexual violence eradication bill to be enacted.
Activists have been lobbying for the bill for nearly 10 years but the legislation has been delayed by lawmakers.
A family member of one of Wirawan’s victims hoped his death by firing squad would act as a deterrent, according to ThisweekinAsia.
Wirawan had been sexually abusing students since opening the boarding school in 2016
“Thank God, this has made history, hopefully this death sentence will deter other perpetrators who are still out there,” they said.
Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty Indonesia said the defendant’s actions were ‘truly intolerable’, but said the death penalty was against international law and standards.
“Legal protections for the right to life must apply equally to all individuals.
“Punishing just one person with a death sentence will not change the sexual violence emergency situation in Indonesia.”
In Indonesia capital punishment sentences are usually only given to murderers, drug traffickers and terrorists.
A firing squad carries out the executions, consisting of members of a police unit known as Brimob.
The rape of a child usually carries 15 years in prison, but judges have additional powers to hand down tougher sentences.
The death penalty had been added as an option for child abusers in changes to the country’s child protection laws.