Rizieq Shihab (C) gestures at reporters upon arrival at the regional police headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia. AP
A firebrand Indonesian cleric turned himself in to authorities on Saturday after he was accused of inciting people to breach pandemic restrictions by holding events with large crowds.
Rizieq Shihab, leader of the Islamic Defenders Front, arrived at Jakarta police headquarters a day after police warned they would arrest him after he ignored several summonses.
Wearing a white robe, turban and face mask, Shihab told reporters that he never ran away or hid from police.
“With God’s permission, I can come to the Jakarta police for an investigation according to the laws and regulations,” he said ahead of questioning.
Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus told a news conference on Friday that Shihab is accused of ignoring measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 by holding an event to commemorate Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) birthday and the wedding of his daughter last month that pulled in thousands of his supporters.
He said Shihab could face up to six years in prison if found guilty of inciting people to violate health regulations amid an outbreak and of obstructing law enforcement.
Shihab’s presence in several events in Jakarta and West Java attracted large crowds with attendants visibly ignoring physical distancing and many failing to wear masks.
Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan and West Java Gov. Ridwan Kamil have been questioned as witnesses in the case.
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