Lia Eden sentenced to prison, again

Jakarta, Indonesia - The Central Jakarta District Court has again sentenced religious sect leader Lia Eden, also known as Lia Aminuddin or Syamsuriati, to prison for religious blasphemy.

The court found Lia guilty of religious blasphemy and incitement of hatred among religious adherents by proselytizing her religion - which she named God's Kingdom of Eden - and delivering her messages to thousands of government institutions, including the Presidential Palace.

"The defendant did not show any remorse. This is the second time she has been tried for religious blasphemy. The court hereby sentences Lia Eden to two years and six months in prison," said Judge Subachran during the trial on Tuesday evening.

It is the second time Lia has been arrested and subsequently sentenced to prison. She was arrested in 2006 for the same crime and sentenced to two years in prison that same year. She was taken into custody again in December last year after she delivered messages to governmental institutions calling for all religions to be annulled.

During the trial, Lia and her followers looked calm as judges read out her sentence. Several of her followers sitting in the middle of the court room were caught sleeping.

When the trial began, Lia's followers walked her to the defendant's chair.

Lia's right-hand man, Wahyu Andito Putro Wibisono, who was also accused of the crime, was given a two-year prison sentence, which was shorter than Lia's because of his relatively young age.

After the trial, Lia and Wahyu said they would appeal the court's decision.

Lia Eden, who was born in Surabaya in 1947, claims she is the reincarnation of the archangel Gabriel. She also believes she received God's message while praying on the night of October 27, 1995, and claims she still receives messages from him.

She began proselytizing publicly in 1997, writing songs, poetry and books. She has also called herself the Virgin Mary and her son Ahmad Mukti, Jesus Christ. Her followers have named the religion Salamullah, and declared all religions truthful.

Her religion has drawn attention because not only does she require her acolytes to dress in white from top to toe, but they must also wear white plastic halos on their heads.