23 February 2008

Time vs. Soeharto vs. Time

This past Thursday (21 February 2008) the defamation / libel case that Time Magazine has been engaged in with the former and now dead President Soeharto has entered the next phase with lawyers for Time filing an appeal. The earlier Decision of the Supreme Court that awarded the former strongman or dictator some USD 106 million in damages is according to the lawyers for Time contains a "manifest error".

The manifest error is likely to stem from the fact that two lower courts found in the favour of Time prior to the decision being overturned in Soeharto's favor at the Supreme Court. The reality is that this error is likely to be argued as being the facts of the case do not meet the defamation or libel standards contained in Indonesian law for an award of damages and particularly one this large.

The appeal brief must include new evidence or highlight that a major injustice would be perpetrated if the appeal decision of the Supreme Court is allowed to stand. Technically without either of these conditions being met the Supreme Court may simply refuse to accept the petition.

There are certainly freedom of speech, expression, and press issued in this case. But even more interesting is that the Supreme Court ruled that Soeharto had been defamed by the Time article yet the State continues to pursue its corruption case against the "now
pushing up daisies" former President.

Updates to follow as this has potential as morphing into an interesting legal debate on interpretation of the prevailing laws and regulations in this area.

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