An Indonesian pop star who rocked the nation after his homemade sex tapes found their way to the Internet was sentenced yesterday to three-and-a-half years in jail.
Fans of Nazril “Ariel” Irham broke down in tears, saying the singer recorded the videos in the privacy of his own home with no plans to make them public.
However, hundreds of Islamic hard-liners surrounding the court tried to smash down its gates, saying he’d gotten off too easy.
The 29-year-old singer was the first celebrity to be found guilty of violating the country’s strict anti-pornography law, which came into effect in 2008 despite strong opposition from the public and members of government. It is seen by many as vaguely worded and its penalties too harsh.
Ariel insists the tapes were stolen from his house and posted online without his knowledge, but presiding Judge Singgih Budi Prakoso said he did nothing to prevent their distribution on the Internet.
He sentenced him to three-and-a-half years in jail — well short of the maximum 12 years — and fined him US$25,000.
“As a public figure, the defendant should be aware that fans might imitate his behavior,” Prakoso said, adding that Ariel, lead singer of the group Peterpan, showed no remorse.
Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other country in the world. Though most are moderate, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.
They have pushed through controversial laws — including the anti-porn bill — and been known to attack anything perceived as blasphemous, from transvestites and bars to “deviant” religious sects.
More than 500 demonstrators turned out yesterday, some pelting the police vehicle carrying Ariel to the court with rotten eggs and tomatoes. Others held placards criticizing the star.
When the verdict was read out, a man on a bull horn shouted, “Too light! Too light!” and others charged past police to the gates of the courthouse.
“More years for Ariel!” shouted Kurnia Maryati, a 33-year-old mother of three who was wearing an Islamic headscarf.
“He made a porn movie that’s harmful for our children,” she said. “I’m sure many followed him after they downloaded the videos on their mobile phones.”
The videos were made public in June.
The first six-minute clip purportedly showed Ariel in bed with his girlfriend, Luna Maya, a top model and actress who joined him at the court yesterday. She broke down in tears when the ruling was read out.
The second clip showed him with a former girlfriend, also a well-liked model and television presenter.
The singer’s supporters were devastated with the judge’s decision.
“He’s just a victim,” said Roslawati, 30, as tears streamed from her eyes. “He didn’t post that video.”
Like many Indonesians, she uses just one name.