Sex Cult Leader on Trial for Blasphemy

Jakarta Globe/May 18, 2009

The leader of a religious group went on trial Monday for blasphemy, with prosecutors accusing him of forcing the group members to perform ritual orgies and banning his followers from observing Muslim prayers.

Agus Imam Solihin, 41, "has incited hatred and committed blasphemous acts against one of the religions observed in Indonesia," the prosecutors said, reading out the indictment at the South Jakarta District Court.

The defendant has claimed to the followers that he was "the manifestation of God" after he received "spiritual guidance" from the country’s first president, Sukarno, in a dream in 1999, the indictment says.

The cult, known as Satria Piningit Weteng Buwono, had 35 followers, including five couples and their children.

Sometime in 2003 at his residence in South Jakarta, Agus forced four couples to perform sex orgies witnessed by him and two teenage girls, "with an aim to test the couples’ loyalty to the defendant," said prosecutor Deddy Sukarno.

When a female follower identified as Ratna Ayu Kusumaningrum suffered a serious illness, Agus banned her from taking medication and she ultimately died of the illness on Dec. 4, 2008. The two had previously lived together for four years.

When passing the sad news on the woman’s father, also a follower, the defendant said "don’t be sad, she is with me now in heaven," said the prosecutor.

The defendant has banned his Muslim followers from praying and fasting, on the grounds that "when we remember God, it means that we are praying."

"The teachings by the Satrio Piningit Weteng Buwono group deviate from Islamic teachings, and therefore could potentially incite hatred and hostility," says the indictment.

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