Widow of Indonesian militant leader Santoso jailed for harbouring him

Jumiatun (in black burqa), the widow of Indonesian militant Santoso, was jailed for two years and three months for harbouring him.
Jumiatun (in black burqa), the widow of Indonesian militant Santoso, was jailed for two years and three months for harbouring him. ST PHOTO: WAHYUDI SOERIAATMADJA

JAKARTA - The widow of East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) militant leader Santoso was jailed for two years and three months on Thursday (May 4) for harbouring her husband when he was on the run from security forces.

The sentence was shorter than the three years' jail sought by prosecutors for Jumiatun, a 22-year-old Indonesian woman who married Santoso in 2013.

Santoso was Indonesia's most wanted terrorist until he was killed in July 2016, during a shoot-out with Indonesian troops, who were part of a massive manhunt operation against him and his fighters.

North Jakarta District Court Judge Abdul Rosad, in passing the sentence, noted that Jumiatun went ahead with her marriage to Santoso despite knowing that he was a fugitive.

"The defendant met Santoso regularly and discreetly with the intention of harbouring Santoso from the authorities," he said.

He added that Santoso was the leader of the MIT, a terrorist group behind several attacks carried out with bombs and firearms, which resulted in the deaths of policemen as well as local residents whom they suspect had spied on them.

The MIT, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was about 45-strong at its peak from 2013 to 2014.

Jumiatun's is a common story among wives of militants, who willingly leave home at the behest of their spouses to join them on the battlefield, said observers.

She had married Santoso when she was still a teenager. In 2015, on Santoso's instructions, she left their baby girl to go live with him as a fugitive in the jungles of Poso, Central Sulawesi, where the MIT was hiding out.

While on the run in the wilderness with the MIT, Jumiatun lived in no fewer than 12 camps to avoid detection by security forces.

Her lawyer Andi Nurul said earlier in her trial that Jumiatun had wanted to leave Santoso to return home, but they were too deep in the jungle.

She could have been charged with a more serious offence because she had discharged a firearm on Santoso's orders, said prosecutors earlier.