BosNewsLife (03/29/06) — The Jakarta Post newspaper quoted Lawyer Ignatius Iryanto as saying his defense team would present nine witnesses to testify that the three Christian convicts — Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva — did not mastermind a series of attacks on Muslims between 2000 and 2001 in the city of Poso in Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province.
Human rights groups have supported the case, saying the Christians seemed to have been the victims of trumped up charges and shaky evidence. Earlier Indonesia ‘s President and the Supreme Court reportedly rejected the requests by the three men, who are farmers, for a review of their case.
However another court in Central Sulawesi province granted a “judicial review” earlier this month, which apparently opened the way for the latest move, BosNewsLife monitored.
The men were jailed in April 2001 after the Poso District Court found them guilty of masterminding and carrying out attacks on Muslims in the city in 2000 at the height of the sectarian violence in the area. Up to 1,000 people died in the attacks.
News of their court case comes amid growing tensions between Muslims and Christians in other areas of Indonesia , including in West Java Province , where on Sunday, March 26, a crowd of Muslims forced a Christian pastor, Fekky Tatulus, to stop his Sunday service and to close his home church, Indonesian media said.
He and about 200 worshippers of the Indonesian Pentecostal Church or ‘Gereja Pentakosta Indonesia ‘, were reportedly forced to leave the building.
Witnesses said blockades were set up in the area to prevent the Christian congregation from meeting again in the area where they reportedly gathered since 1987. “Please tell me where the 190 church members can meet now,” the pastor reportedly wondered.
Police officials and soldiers of the Indonesian Army were nearby, but apparently did not intervene. The incident came shortly after a controversial ministerial decrees about places of worship, which limits the locations and buildings where Christians can meet.
Local Christians have expressed concern over renewed religious strife in Indonesia , the world’s largest Muslim nation.