MAKASSAR, Indonesia — Indonesian authorities have arrested dozens of people suspected of snatching the bodies of COVID-19 victims from several hospitals so the dead could be buried according to their wishes.
Provincial police spokesman Ibrahim Ponto said Wednesday that at least 33 suspects have been detained by police in South Sulawesi province in the past week. Ponto said charges against 10 of them will proceed to prosecutors.
He says if convicted, the suspects face up to seven years in prison and $7,000 in fines for violating health laws and resisting officers.
Tompo said: “What they have done could harm the wider community.”
Videos of several incidents have circulated widely on social media in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
In one instance, a mob is seen breaking into a hospital’s isolation room and taking away a body on a stretcher.
Tompo said religious faith and funeral traditions are motives for people who see public health restrictions on burials as unacceptable.
The arrests came as Indonesia’s Health Ministry reported the highest single-day increase in confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday. The 1,241 new cases bring the country’s total to 34,316. The figures include 36 people who died in the last 24 hours, taking the country's COVId-19 death toll to 1,923.