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An Indonesian court sentenced a teacher to death for raping 13 students, marking the first instance of a death sentence for rape crimes in the country.
Herry Wirawan, 36, sexually groomed 13 girls between the ages of 12 and 16 years old over a period of five years. A judge said Herry impregnated eight of his victims, Reuters reported.
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Herry initially faced a life sentence for his crimes, but prosecutors appealed for the death penalty. The debate over implementing the death penalty has proven contentious as the nation’s human rights commission opposed its use as “not appropriate.”
But the judge ultimately amended its ruling to apply the death penalty – the first time a rapist has faced such a punishment for his crimes. Herry will now face a firing squad.
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“(We) hereby punish the defendant with the death penalty,” the judge said in a statement on Monday posted on the Bandung High Court’s website.
Opponents of the death penalty argued that the threat of execution has not proven to act as a deterrent against serious crime.
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The suggested punishment for child rapists under Indonesian law is 15 years in prison, but judges can hand out tougher sentences.
Herry worked at a religious boarding school, which some argue can provide the only way for children from poorer families to get an education. Those same critics argued that child safety proved more important than punishments.
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Ranto Sibarani, an Indonesian human rights lawyer, told the South China Morning Post that this case and others have shown the need for stronger mechanisms and oversight to protect children from abuse, such as refusing accreditation to schools or organizations without clear child safety policies.