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An Indonesian court on Wednesday jailed 14 Muslim Rohingya men from Burma for nine months each for bludgeoning eight Buddhists from their country to death in an Indonesian detention centre.
The Rohingya asylum-seekers in April killed the Buddhist men, who had been detained for illegally fishing in Indonesian waters, as sectarian tensions in their home country flared.
The Rohingyas, aged 18 to 37, accused the fishermen of sexually harassing two Rohingya women and said the Buddhists started the violence in the detention centre, in the port town of Belawan near Medan city on Sumatra island.
“The defendants have been proven legally and convincingly guilty of working together to blatantly carry out violence, which resulted in the loss of human lives,” chief judge Aksir told the Medan district court.
“We sentenced them to nine months in prison,” he said.
The sentence was lighter than the two-year term sought by prosecutors and the maximum penalty for violence resulting in death, which is 12 years.
The men, along with 100 Indonesian Muslim supporters, chanted “Allahu Akbar” in the court room after the light sentences were handed down.
According to court documents, a fisherman had tried to stab one of the Rohingya men, who retaliated by hitting him with a broomstick.
Also on trial in Indonesia, Sigit Indrajid, 23, testified that he led a group of Islamic extremists that networked over Facebook in a plan to attack the Burmese embassy in Jakarta in May.
According to local press, he confessed to being the mastermind on Thursday, saying he was “still at war” with anyone oppressing Muslims.
The group said it wanted to avenge the harsh treatment of Rohingya in Burma – an issue that has resonated widely in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation.