Prita Mulyasari: (Antara/Ismar Patrizki)
A recent ruling by the Supreme Court, acquitting Prita Mulyasari, a mother charged with defaming a private hospital in Tangerang, symbolizes that customers' rights in the country can be upheld, a lawyer says.
“The verdict implies that customers' rights to express their opinions may be better protected in the future,” Prita's lawyer Slamet Yuwono told The Jakarta Post Digital on Tuesday.
Prita’s case captivated the nation when Omni International Hospital in Tangerang filed both civil and criminal lawsuits against her for distributing an allegedly slanderous email that might have conveyed negative sentiments against the private hospital.
Tangerang prosecutor’s office charged her under the Criminal Code and the law on information and electronic transactions, with offenses which carried a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.
In 2009, the Tangerang District Court ruled in favor of the hospital in a civil suit, requiring Prita to pay around Rp 340 million (US$40,120) to the hospital. Prita was found guilty of distributing slanderous emails against the hospital.
The Supreme Court however exonerated Prita from the civil suit charges, but sentenced the mother of two to six months in prison.
With the ruling of her case review granted on Monday, Prita was cleared of all charges.
“The judges acquitted Prita after the convict presented convincing new evidence, during the case review,” said Supreme Court spokesman Ridwan Mansyur, as quoted by tribunnews.com.
In the case review, Prita's lawyer team presented the Supreme Court's previous ruling, as new evidence, which the team deemed as inconsistent.
“In the civil lawsuit appeal, the judges considered Prita did not defame the hospital. But then, in the criminal lawsuit appeal, the same judges perceived her guilty of defamation,” Slamet said, adding that he was relieved when the judges took the new evidence into their consideration.
The judges deemed that Prita only wanted to convey her opinion and that such action was protected by the constitution.
According to Slamet, Prita has not considered a counteraction against the hospital, after winning the review.
“She wants to enjoy her victory after four years of fighting for her rights,” said Slamet. (riz/iwa)