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Sex-tape scandal pop star jailed

One of Indonesia's best-known pop stars has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years behind bars after sex tapes featuring his celebrity girlfriends found their way to the internet, riveting and dividing this predominantly Muslim nation.

Liberals said the embarrassment suffered by Nazril "Ariel" Irham - who insists the videos were not intended for public viewing - was punishment enough. But hard-liners were outraged, saying the singer was contributing to the country's moral decline.

Hundreds charged the gates of the courthouse in the city of Bandung after the verdict was read out, yelling "Too light! Too light," as he sped off in an armoured police car. Police fired warning shots to break up a scuffle between his supporters and critics.

Ariel, lead singer of the country's most popular band, Peterpan, was the first celebrity to be charged under Indonesia's strict anti-pornography law, which came into effect in 2008 despite strong opposition from the public and members of government.

It is seen by many as vaguely worded and as carrying overly harsh penalties.

Ariel insists the tapes were stolen from his house and posted online without his knowledge, but presiding Judge Singgih Budi Prakoso said the pop star did nothing to prevent them from spreading online.

He sentenced him to three-and-a-half years years in jail - well short of the maximum 12 years - and fined him £15,000.

"As a public figure, the defendant should be aware that fans might imitate his behaviour," said Judge Prakoso, adding that the frontman for Peterpan - also popular in neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei - did not show remorse.

His supporters were devastated. "He's just a victim," said Roslawati, 30, as tears streamed from his eyes. "He didn't post that video."

Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other country in the world. Though most are moderate, analysts suggest a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.

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