Facebook defamation case in Indonesia highly criticised

Facebook defamation case in Indonesia highly criticised

YOGYAKARTA - Activists have criticised the Yogyakarta Prosecutor's Office for appealing to the Supreme Court regarding the Bantul District Court's acquittal of Ervani Emy Handayani in a Facebook defamation case.

Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) director Samsudin Nurseha questioned whether the appeal was in the public's best interest, as there were concerns that the Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE) Law was reducing freedom of speech and expression.

"Prosecutors represent the public. They should have protected the right to express and to speak as part of human rights," said Samsudin, who was also a member of Ervani's legal team during the trial.

He said the prosecutors had the right to appeal but it should not be carried out for the sake of formal legal procedure without considering public interest.

"We hope the Supreme Court will consider the Bantul District Court's ruling for the fulfillment of the rights to express and speak [freely]," he said.

Ervani was tried for her Facebook comments, in which she expressed disappointment over the dismissal of her husband Alfa Janto from work at the Jolie Jogja Jewelry.

She mentioned Alfa's supervisor, Diah Sarastuty (Ayas), in her post.

"We don't think she deserved to be appointed the leader at Jolie Jogja Jewelry," Ervani wrote on her Facebook account on May 30, 2014.

Ayas took the case to court. The prosecutors charged Ervani with defamation as stipulated in articles 45 (1) and 27 (3) of the ITE Law and articles 310 and 311 of the Criminal Code.

Last week at the Bantul District Court, the panel of judges presided over by Sulistyo M. Dwi Putro acquitted Ervani over lack of evidence.

Similar disappointment at the prosecutors' appeal was also expressed by Indonesian Court Monitor (ICM) director Tri Wahyu KH.

He said the Yogyakarta Prosecutor's Office was eager to punish Ervani but had neglected big corruption cases committed in the province, including the one involving former Bantul regent Idham Samawi.

"We will stage a rally to demand the dismissal of Yogyakarta Prosecutor's Office head Loeke Larasati," Tri Wahyu said.

Separately, Ervani expressed hope that the prosecutor's office would change its mind. She also said she had no intention of committing the alleged defamation.

"I am tired of this long process," said Ervani, who was detained for 20 days in the case.

Meanwhile, Yogyakarta Prosecutor's Office spokesperson Zulkardiman said the appeal had been sent to the court to test whether the Supreme Court's judges agreed with the Bantul District Court's sentence.

"We want to prove that the defendant should not be completely free of guilt," Zulkardiman said.

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