28 July 2009
Prita Mulyasari -- The Case Continues...
The Prita Mulyasari case is an interesting one. It is interesting for a number of reasons. First, among these, is the necessity for criminal defamation in Indonesia. Second, was this the right case to test the those criminal defamation provisions. Finally, did the Tangerang District Court err in the manner in which it dismissed the indictments which set Prita free?
I noted in an earlier post that the manner in which the indictments were dismissed left the prosecutors no alternative but to appeal. The reason is simple, the judgment sets a bad precedent. The idea that a law does not come into force until all of the subsidiary or implementing legislation is in place is clearly not the case in Indonesia. The judges in this case have erred in the application of the law.
Even more so when one considers that the article under which the indictment was issued does not require any subsidiary legislation to be effective. This really was a case of putting the cart before the horse. Ultimately, this undermines legal certainty rather than reinforcing it.
Funnily enough when confronted with the fact that the Tangerang Office of the Public Prosecutor were going to appeal this to the High Court in their pursuit of a conviction, Prita is alleged to have said the following, "Is it the prosecutors' personal problem?" I wonder!
Prita's lawyers from the firm of OC Kaligis have stated that if the High Court accepts the appeal, then this would set a bad precedent. I am not sure how it sets a bad precedent as each case is judged on its merits. If the judges believe their is merit in the appeal then that appeal must be granted leave for the appeal to be heard. Prita's lawyers went further to suggest that if the judges accepted the appeal then this is indicative of their arrogance.
In my mind, if the prosecutors did not appeal and the judges did not accept the appeal, then I would argue that both had erred in their duties to the larger community. It is unfortunate that Prita is going to end up as a pawn in this struggle. But, the reality is that the judges fell victim to public outcry and their legal reasoning for dismissing the case is not sound.
The judges would have been better to allow Prita's defense team to present their case and then agree with the submissions of the defense and then dismiss the case because the elements of defamation had neither been made out nor had the prosecution presented sufficient evidence in support of the indictment. And, finally, the defenses to the indictment were made out.
If the judges had done this then Prita would be a free woman and not worrying about an appeal.
I have made the arguments for and against the prosecutors pursuing this case in other posts and they do not need repeating here. If our interested follow the link.