A teacher from Indonesia is now facing the death penalty for raping 13 students aged between 12 and 16. He was previously serving a life sentence but this was upgraded to the death penalty following an appeal by prosecutors in Indonesia.

The man was identified as Herry Wirawan who allegedly sexually groomed 13 girls and impregnated at least nine of them at an Islamic boarding school in Indonesia.

Wirawan reportedly carried out the acts from 2016 to 2021.

Wirawan was initially sentenced to life in prison in February before prosecutors who filed for the death penalty were granted by the Bandung court, CNN reported.

“(We) hereby punish the defendant with the death penalty,” a judge said in a statement posted on the Bandung High Court's website.

Ira Mambo, representing Wirawan, declined to comment for now on whether an appeal would be made. However, he did cite the need to see the ruling from the court.

Also, a spokesperson from the local prosecutor’s office said it would wait to get the final ruling before issuing comments.

Calls for the death penalty were backed by Indonesian officials, including the country’s child protection minister. However, it should be noted that the human rights commission of the country is against the death penalty, calling it inappropriate.

Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim majority country, has tens of thousands of Islamic boarding schools and other religious schools that often provide the only way for the children of poorer families to get an education.

The case of teacher Herry Wirawan has shocked the country and shone a spotlight on the need to protect children from sexual violence in the country's religious boarding schools, Reuters reported.

“This wound will never be healed as long as we live, maybe until we die. The pain we are feeling is indescribable. We don't feel heard,” Hidmat Dijaya, an uncle of one of the victims, said.

“If the sentence is lenient like this, there will be more Islamic teachers who will abuse children,” he added.

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