Leader of Indonesia gang which raped, murdered girl sentenced to death

Indonesian suspects charged for the gang-rape and murder of a 14-year old schoolgirl are produced in court in Curup, Bengkulu province on Aug 4, 2016.
Indonesian suspects charged for the gang-rape and murder of a 14-year old schoolgirl are produced in court in Curup, Bengkulu province on Aug 4, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

CURUP, Indonesia (REUTERS)- An Indonesian court on Thursday (Sept 29) sentenced to death the leader of a gang of men and boys who raped and murdered a schoolgirl in a case that prompted the president to take steps to impose harsher punishments for attacks on children.

The gang leader, Zainal, was sentenced to death in a court on Sumatra island. Four other men were jailed for 20 years for their roles in the April attack on the 14-year-old in the western island by a group of 14 males, including eight boys.

Sexual violence against women and children is common in Indonesia but gang rape is unusual.

The case shocked the world's fourth most populous country and prompted President Joko Widodo to sign a regulation allowing for harsher punishments for child rapists, including death and chemical castration.

The regulation is pending approval in parliament. "Because of the sadistic nature of the crime ... the court sentences Zainal to death," said presiding judge Henny Faridha.

The youngest member of the gang was 13 years old.

They attacked the girl as she was on her way to school. Her battered body was found in a rubber plantation a few days later, after her parents reported her missing.

Seven gang members were earlier jailed for 10 years, while one was ordered into a rehabilitation programme for a year. One suspect is on the run, according to police.

The victim's parents, who were in court, said the sentencing was inadequate. "They should all get the death penalty," Yana, the victim's mother, told reporters as she broke down in tears.

The attack was reminiscent of a 2012 fatal gang rape of a female university student in India's capital, New Delhi, which provoked a national outcry and soul-searching about the treatment of girls and women in Indian society.