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I'm really sick: Pakpahan

Jakarta Post - March 4, 1997

Jakarta – Labor leader Muchtar Pakpahan, standing trial for his alleged antigovernment statements, exploded in court yesterday and accused presiding Judge Djazuli P. Sudibyo of ignoring his poor health.

Pakpahan's outburst was in response to the South Jakarta District Court judge's accusation that he was only trying to attract press attention by bringing his health problems to court.

"I am really sick. I am not making it up so the press will write about me, " he yelled at the court attended by foreign observers.

Early in yesterday's session, Pakpahan appealed to the court to issue a letter ordering the prison authorities to allow him a medical check-up by his own doctor. He said he would refuse to show up for the trial again if the court did not issue the letter.

Djazuli said he had sent a letter to the head of the South Jakarta Prosecutors Office and the Cipinang prison's chief warden asking that the of finials "pay attention" to Pakpahan's health needs.

"If the prison has not yet heeded my request it's not my business," Djazuli said.

Pakpahan retorted that the officials had told him they needed a letter of authorization and not just a letter of request.

"I'm a victim, caught in the middle of officials throwing their responsibilities at each other," he said.

Pakpahan's lawyer Adnan Buyung Nasution also demanded yesterday that Djazuli issue the letter in the name of human rights.

"Otherwise, the law would no longer mean protection of human rights, but negation of them," Buyung said.

Djazuli had said during previous sessions that issuing such a letter for Pakpahan, who has already been convicted for another charge, would be "beyond his jurisdiction."

Besides facing a maximum penalty of death if found guilty of subversion by the court, Pakpahan has been serving a four-year jail term at Cipinang Prison for inciting riots in the North Sumatra capital of Medan in 1994.

Pakpahan said he had been wondering if the prison's denial of his right to medication, which is guaranteed by Article 58 of the Criminal Code Procedures, was part of his "punishment". Yesterday's hearing was halted early because of Pakpahan's health. Djazuli adjourned it until Thursday.

At a separate session in the South Jakarta court yesterday, Democratic People's Party Secretary-General Petrus Hariyanto, standing trial for subversion, revealed that he and his 10 fellow activists had been on a hunger strike for the past five days.

"We will continue to do this to show that nothing, not even prison bars, can stop the voice of people. Going on a hunger strike is the weapon of the oppressed," Petrus said in statement made available to the press after yesterday's session. (aan)