Indonesia’s would-be first female suicide bomber, who is due to give birth in the next week, was ordered to spend 7½ years in prison, a judge and her lawyer said Monday in what is believed to be the nation’s harshest sentence against a woman terrorist.
The verdict at the East Jakarta Court against Dian Yulia Novi, 28, was expected this week but announced Friday without any journalists present because of her medical condition.
“The judges sped up the case because Dian is expected give birth,” her lawyer, Kamsi, who like many Indonesians goes only by one name, told BenarNews on Monday. Dian’s due date is Sept. 2.
She was found guilty of malicious conspiracy and attempted criminal acts of terrorism.
Her husband, Muhammad Nur Solikin, 26, with whom she allegedly plotted the attack, is standing trial on similar charges and a verdict is expected next month. Police previously referred to Solikin as Solihin.
Dian was arrested on Dec. 10, 2016, disrupting her plan to blow herself up outside Jakarta’s State Palace during a changing of the guard ceremony the next day. Police found an unexploded pressure cooker bomb in the rented room where she was arrested in the West Java city of Bekasi, about an hour from Jakarta.
“I was surprised because the Friday agenda was actually for the defense,” Kamsi said.
Judge Syafrudin Ainor Rafiek confirmed the verdict and sentencing.
“The bomb was already at the home, so only the action was not taken yet,” Rafiek told BenarNews on Monday. “So the elements of conspiring and attempting to conduct a criminal act of terrorism are legally and convincingly fulfilled,” he added.
The sentence is lower than the 10-year prison term sought by prosecutors.
In a separate trial at the same court, judges sentenced another woman, Tutin Sugiarti, to 3½ years in prison, less than the five years sought by prosecutors, for recruiting Dian and introducing her to Solikin. Kamsi said both women accepted the verdicts and sentences.
Solikin, who remained married to Tutin, also married Dian in October 2016, a month after they met. Neither were present at the wedding ceremony, but were represented by other people.
Solikin took on Dian as his second wife because a fatwa issued by the extremist group Islamic State (IS) required women to have permission of their fathers or husbands “to carry out any activities outside their home – even for worshipping, including by becoming a martyr,” according to a report published earlier this year by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), a Jakarta think-tank.
The criminal indictment stated that the goal of the marriage was to allow Dian to blow herself up in a suicide attack, something she had planned while working as a migrant in Taiwan in 2015.
During TV interviews shortly after their arrests, Dian and Solikin admitted that they married so she could commit the terror act, adding they were being directed by someone they believed was Bahrun Naim, a leading Indonesian IS figure.
Adhe Bhakti, a terrorism analyst with the Center for the Study of Radicalism and Deradicalization, said Dian’s sentence was the longest for any female terrorist in Indonesia.
“But it’s proper seeing the role, the involvement, and the location being targeted,” Adhe told BenarNews.
Previously, women had been sentenced for involvement in terrorism under the category of concealing information about terror acts or aiding in hiding perpetrators.
Munfiatun, the widow of Noordin Mohammad Top, a Malaysian extremist who was wanted for a series of bombings, including at the J.W. Marriot hotel in 2003, the Australian Embassy in 2004, and the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in 2009, was sentenced to three years for concealing the whereabouts of her husband.
Umi Delima (alias Jumiatun), the widow of Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen leader Santoso was sentenced in May to two years and three months in prison.
Dian Yulia Novi sits next to her husband, Muhammad Nur Solikin, as they stand trial in an East Jakarta Courtroom, Aug. 23, 2017. (Arie Firdaus/BenarNews)
Prosecutors are seeking a 15-year sentence for Solikin and eight years for a fourth suspect, Agus Supriadi.
The apparent leader of a small militant cell in Central Java’s city of Solo, Solikin allegedly said he had received instructions from Bahrun to make the bomb. Bahrun has been identified as the mastermind of an IS-claimed terrorist attack in Jakarta in January 2016 that killed eight people, including four militants.
Police allege Agus rented a car to deliver the bomb made by Solikin from Solo to Jakarta. Special anti-terror squad Densus 88 arrested Solikin and Agus on Dec. 10, 2016, in East Jakarta.
Their verdicts are expected in mid-September.