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Jakarta Post

Indonesian Facebooker acquitted of defamation charges

  • Andi Hajramurni

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 12, 2017   /  08:29 am
Indonesian Facebooker acquitted of defamation charges Portals like Facebook and applications like Instagram have made more people, even indolent ones who wouldn’t usually do a Google search for destinations, exposed to renowned places around the world. (Shutterstock/File)

The Makassar District Court in South Sulawesi cleared on Tuesday a woman of defamation charges for comments she made in a Facebook post.

Yusniar, a resident of Makassar, had earlier been detained and charged with defamation under the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law for writing a comment that offended a local councilor.

The acquittal of the 27-yearold housewife came as surprise amid the frequent guilty verdicts that have been handed down in cases involving the ITE Law.

“The charges are not proven. Therefore, she is now fully at liberty to go,” said presiding judge Kasianus while reading the verdict.

The case embroiled Yusniar after Sudirman Sijaya, a councilor on the Jeneponto legislative council in South Sulawesi, who is also apparently a lawyer, filed a report against her over remarks she made on her Facebook page.

She wrote on March 14, in Makassarese, “Thank God. The problem is finally over. Stupid [lawmaker], stupid lawyer. [You] want to help a guilty person, [but it is] clearly my parents’ land [that you] came to and disturbed.”

The post came a day after her parents’ house on Jl. Sultan Alauddin was attacked by 100 people, allegedly including Sudirman. Yusniar did not mention any names in her post.

Yusniar was charged with violating the ITE Law, which carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison. She had earlier been detained but was later released on bail during the trial.

Kasianus said Yusniar was not proven to have slandered Sudirman in her Facebook post since she did not mention any names or refer in any way directly to him.

“The defendant mentioned ‘a lawmaker,’ while Sudirman Sijaya is not a member of the House of Representatives. He is a Jeneponto councilor,” he said.

Yusniar and her lawyer team received the verdict with delight.

Abdul Aziz Dumpa, one of her lawyers, said he appreciated the panel of judges’ decision.

“This is a true form of justice for the defendant and other people who are threatened with the ITE Law,” he said.

First enacted in 2008, the ITE Law has become a scourge of the country’s internet users.

According to data from the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network, 200 people have been prosecuted using the draconian law since it was first implemented.

The number of people criminalized has increased in recent years, reaching 62 people in 2015, compared to just two in 2008, the data showed. Roughly 90 percent of the cases were defamation cases.

The most infamous case was housewife Prita Mulyasari, who was imprisoned for complaining about OMNI International Hospital in 2009 in a private email that went viral.

The most recent case involved a man in Medan, North Sumatra, who was sentenced to 14 months in prison in August for being tagged in a story on Facebook.

Upon hearing her acquittal, Yusniar immediately broke down and expressed her gratitude by falling to her knees and kissing the ground.

“Thanks to all of you who have supported me,” she said while wiping away her tears.

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