Famed Spiritual Guru on Hunger Strike after Court Detention

JAKARTA

Indonesian spiritual activist Anand Krishna entered the eight day of a hunger strike on Wednesday, protesting at his jailing by a judge hearing a sex-abuse case against him.

In Jail: Anand Krishna.

Krishna, 54, stopped eating on March 9 when Judge Hari Sasangka at the South Jakarta District Court ordered him incarcerated as the trial, which began last August, continues. The three-member panel of judges had decided that because the charge carried a sentence of more than five years, the defendant should be imprisoned.

The spiritual guru, who runs meditation centres in Jakarta and Bali and has worked on peace missions with the Dalai Lama, is accused of sexually abusing a former student, Tara Laksmi, 20, who said she was hypnotized by the spiritual leader. He denies the charge, saying it is “politically motivated.”

In a statement to The Bali Times, Krishna, whose foundation organises an annual international meditators’ festival in Bali’s Ubud, said he was shocked by his jailing.

“I feel oppressed by the judge’s determination to detain me, since during the trial we have been very cooperative.” He said his hunger strike was “a protest at the judgment, which I believe is very inhuman and even not considering my health problems where I should be on a very strict diet.”

He said he was prepared to die rather than be silenced.

“Let me die if that’s what people who arise and funded this case wanted – to silence my voice of nationality, harmony mission and my principle of unity in diversity.”

In the lead-up to the trial police had wanted to arrest Krishna as they conducted their investigation, but Krishna collapsed during interrogation and was taken to hospital, where doctors said he was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.

Krishna’s lawyer, Darwin Aritonang, said the court’s detention of his client was unlawful.

“A person can be arrested before a final verdict due to three points of consideration, which are preventing suspect from removing evidence, preventing the suspect’s escape and preventing suspect from repeating his or her criminal action. All of those premises are irrelevant in this case.”

Aritonang claimed Krisha’s incarceration, at Cipinang Prison in Jakarta, would negatively impact his health.

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