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Jakarta Post

On National Press Day, Jokowi reverses decision to commute life sentence of journalist killer

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie
    Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Surabaya   /   Sat, February 9, 2019   /   02:55 pm
On National Press Day, Jokowi reverses decision to commute life sentence of journalist killer Residents sign a white banner to show support for a petition to withdraw a sentence cut for I Nyoman Susrama, who was convicted of the murder of journalist Anak Agung Gede Narendra Prabangsa. The government said it reconsidered the remission after mounting public protests. (The Jakarta Post/Zul Trio Anggono)

After mounting public protests, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has reversed the decision to commute the life sentence of I Nyoman Susrama, who was convicted of the murder of Radar Bali daily journalist Anak Agung Gede Narendra Prabangsa, to 20 years’ imprisonment.

President Jokowi confirmed the report during National Press Day in Surabaya, East Java, on Saturday, meaning that Nyoman must serve his life sentence.

“Yes, I have signed the paperwork,” he said on the sidelines of the event.

Susrama was sentenced to life in prison after judges found him guilty of masterminding the murder of Prabangsa in February 2009. Prabangsa was killed in his house in Bangli, Bali, and his body was thrown into the sea. His body was found floating in waters west of Padangbai Harbor. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Prabangsa received threatening calls and text messages for two weeks before he disappeared.

The verdict for Susrama was lighter than the death sentence demanded by prosecutors. Susrama was charged under Article 340 of the Criminal Code on premeditated murder.  

Susrama, the younger brother of former Bangli regent I Nengah Arnawa, is currently serving his sentence in Bangli prison.

Jokowi granted 114 other murder convicts remission through Presidential Decree No. 29/2018 signed on Dec. 7, 2018.

Previously, the President's decision to commute Susrama's life sentence to 20 years' imprisonment, which would have entitled him to additional remissions during religious holidays or on Independence Day, angered the press community and rights activists, as the Prabangsa murder case was the first  case of violence against a journalist that was uncovered.

The CPJ recorded 10 killings of Indonesian journalists on duty between 1992 and 2019. Eight of them were murdered, one died in a crossfire and another died on a dangerous assignment. Among the murdered journalists were Prabangsa and Yogyakarta-based Bernas journalist Fuad “Udin” Muhammad Syafruddin, who was murdered on Aug. 16, 1996, in a case that remains unsolved. (das)