The West Java Police have arrested the self-proclaimed "royals" involved in the "Sunda Empire" and named them fraud suspects.
The force's spokesperson Sr. Comr. Saptono Erlangga said the suspects — the so-called grand prime minister Nasri Banks, royal imperial highness Raden Ratna Ningrum and general secretary Rangga Sasana — were charged under articles 14 and 15 of the 1946 Misinformation Law, which carry maximum sentences of 10 and two years’ imprisonment, respectively.
Investigators from the police had questioned dozens of witnesses in the case, including historians and cultural experts, in relation to the narrative promoted by the group, such as claims that the Sunda Empire had existed since 323 BC and that the United Nations was under the empire's control.
"We have come to the conclusion that all of the claims are lies," Saptono said.
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The investigation was launched following a report filed by the head of the Sundanese Customary Assembly, Ari Mulia Subagja, who feared that the hoax spread by Sunda Empire would lead to disorder.
The emergence of the so-called Sunda Empire-Earth Empire in West Java's provincial capital of Bandung, which the group claimed as the home city of the world's diplomatic corps, has caused a sensation online.
In a nine-minute video, which has gone viral on YouTube and Facebook, a man is seen passionately explaining about the empire's existence in a room full of people wearing light blue berets.
“Sunda Empire-Earth Empire is a Sun empire, an Earth empire. It isn’t linked to the Sundanese [people] because this is a hereditary empire from dynasty to dynasty and currently it is the Sundakala dynasty,” said the man whose name was recorded on the video as “HRH Rangga”.
He said at that time that all countries could register with the empire, which would fight "to settle debts at the World Bank by 2020".
Following his arrest, Rangga Sasana said that he had prepared legal assistance to help him.
"The historical mix-up is understandable," he said.
The Sunda Empire came into spotlight shortly after social media was rocked by the emergence of "Keraton Agung Sejagat" or “World Empire”, an apparently fictitious kingdom based in Purworejo regency, Central Java, which claimed itself to be the successor of the ancient Majapahit Empire.
The Central Java Police have charged the "king and queen" of Keraton Agung Sejagat, Totok Santoso Hadiningrat and Fanni Amanadia, with violating Article 14 of the 1946 law.
During the declaration of the kingdom’s existence early this month, Totok and Fanni claimed that their destiny was to fulfill a promise made 500 years ago by the Majapahit Kingdom — which controlled much of maritime Southeast Asia during its peak in the 14th century — when it collapsed in 1518.
The Central Java Police had asked academic experts from Diponegoro University in Semarang to find out whether the claims made in the case were based on any historical evidence. The results were reportedly negative. (vny)