The Jakarta Post
Amid widespread reports of legal persecution under the draconian Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, a district court in Poso, Central Sulawesi, has set a precedent by ruling in favor of the defendant in a highly publicized defamation case.
The case concerned a libel suit that Tojo Una Una Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Bagus Setiyono had brought against anti-corruption activist Mohammad Aksa Patundu over a Facebook post.
The judicial panel of Ahmad Erya, Jusdi Formawan and Beni Lipu at the Poso District Court ruled in favor of defendant Aksa and ordered his immediate release from detention.
“The court finds the defendant not guilty,” the judges read out the verdict on Monday, adding that it had been proven that Aksa had not committed a defamatory act.
Aksa, head of the Tojo Una-Una Corruption Watch, was accused of committing libel in his July 5, 2017 Facebook post titled “Investigation to project own by rogue officers at the Tojo Una Una Police”, which garnered many comments. Commenting on his own post, Aksa wrote, “We need to focus. I heard that the police chief is allegedly involved.”
Earlier, Aksa had filed a complaint against the Tojo Una-Una police chief with the Central Sulawesi Police’s internal affairs division, alleging Bagus had abused his power in connection with local projects worth billions of rupiah.
The police chief struck back by accusing Aksa of violating the ITE Law of 2016 in his Facebook post.
Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) expressed its appreciation for the verdict.
“SAFEnet thanks all parties involved, including the language expert witness, media and Tojo Una-Una and Central Sulawesi residents that have given their full attention to the case, so Mohammad Aksa could stand trial with his head held high,” the group said in a press statement on Tuesday. (rin)