Nazril "Ariel" Irham is one Southeast Asia's most popular stars and front man for the band Peterpan. He was arrested after two homemade videos swept the Internet last year, depicting the 30-year-old star having sex with his actress girlfriend and a popular TV presenter. The videos riveted Indonesia and spurred the government to try to impose a porn filter on the Web, to prevent local users from accessing Playboy and dozens of other sites.
Dueling chants echoed outside the court compound today in the city of Bandung, where Irham's punishment was announced. Young, Web-savvy music fans gathered alongside Muslim hardliners protesting what they saw as authorities' leniency in dealing with the pop star. Irham's three-and-a-half-year prison sentence also includes a $28,000 fine, but it was less than the five years prosecutors had requested, CNN reported.
After the verdict was read, some Muslim protesters stormed the court, and the singer was whisked away into an armored police car. Some 1,000 police sought to keep order outside.
Irham was found guilty of violating Indonesia's controversial anti-pornography law, passed in 2008 amid pressure from Muslim conservatives for the country to crack down on public nudity and racy material online. The law says anyone found guilty of producing, copying, distributing or broadcasting pornography can be sentenced to up to 12 years in jail.
"The defendant is legitimately and convincingly guilty of giving chances for others to spread, make and provide pornography," Judge Singgih Budi Prakoso told the court, according to Reuters.
The sex tapes are believed to have come from Irham's computer, and police initially said a friend may have stolen them. An employee of Peterpan's record label was sentenced today to two years in prison for allegedly being the one who uploaded the videos to the Internet.
The pop star denied it was him in the footage, and his lawyer vowed to appeal, saying the anti-pornography law was wrongly applied retroactively to acts videotaped in 2006.
But the local head of an Indonesian Muslim group, Abdul Qohar, told the Times that Irham's videos were a "virus" corrupting the nation's youth.
After the two videos went viral, the words "Ariel Peterporn" -- a play on the name of Irham's band and a reference to the porn scandal he was mired in -- became a trending topic on Twitter.