Cleric ‘Arrested’ over Child Bride

JAKARTA ~ A wealthy Indonesian Muslim cleric who married a 12-year-old girl faces up to 15 years in jail after being arrested for obscenity, a report said.

Pujiono Cayho Widiyanto, a 43-year-old businessman and cleric, was arrested by police in the Central Java city of Semarang on Tuesday, The Jakarta Globe daily said.

Widiyanto sparked nationwide outrage by taking a poor village girl, Lutfiana Ulfa, as his second wife in August last year.

“We’ve collected enough evidence to charge him with under age obscenity under the Criminal Code,” chief detective Royhardi Siahaan was quoted as saying, adding the charges carried a maximum of 15 years jail.

The cleric was arrested after police collected documents proving Ulfa was under age, Siahaan said.

Widiyanto and his supporters say his actions are acceptable under Islam but others say he should abide by state law, which sets 16 as the minimum age for marriage.

Police were not immediately available to confirm the report.

Although Indonesian law carries stiff penalties for pedophilia, arranged marriages between older men and girls are common in poor rural areas, but are not registered with the government.

About 90 percent of Indonesia’s 234 million people are Muslim, but the country has sizeable Hindu, Buddhist and Christian minorities.

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