July 26, 2007 / 10:38 AM / 11 years ago

Indonesia jails Christians over Muslim killings

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian court jailed 17 Christians for up to 14 years on Thursday under anti-terrorism laws for the murder of two Muslims.

Three Indonesian Christian suspects, charged under anti-terror laws for the murder of two Muslims, wait in jail for their trial in Jakarta July 26, 2007. Under anti-terror laws, they can be sentenced up to 12 to 14 years in jail. REUTERS/Dadang Tri

The Muslim fishmongers were attacked in Poso, on Sulawesi island, last September by a mob angry at the execution last year of three Christians.

The three were convicted of leading a group that killed hundreds of Muslims at a boarding school during inter-religious violence in Poso in 2000.

Judges at the South Jakarta court found the 17 defendants guilty of “acts of terrorism by the use violence”.

Two of the defendants got 14-year jail terms for their main roles in the killings, while 10 received 12-year jail terms. Both victims were decapitated after they were killed.

In a separate hearing, five other defendants received eight-year terms for taking part in the disposal of the bodies.

A lawyer for the defendants, Elvis Katuwu, said his clients should not have been charged under anti-terrorism laws.

“This is not right. They should have been charged under a criminal code article on battery causing death,” he told reporters.

Poso regency, a large but sparsely populated rugged area in the middle of Sulawesi island, suffered a long period of Muslim-Christian violence from the late 1990s.

More than 2,000 people were killed during the peak of the violence from late 1998 until a peace accord between Muslim and Christian communities took effect in late 2001.

There has been sporadic violence since and prosecutions against those involved have been rare.

Around 85 percent of Indonesia’s 220 million people follow Islam, but in some areas in the country’s east, such as Poso, there are roughly equal numbers of Muslims and Christians.

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