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PRD activists refuse to testify

Jakarta Post - March 5, 1997

Jakarta – Three Democratie People's Party (PRD) activists refused yesterday to testify against their leader Budiman Sujatmiko who is on trial for subversion.

Their decision angered Judge Sjoffinan Sumantri of the Central Jakarta District Court. Calling their behavior irresponsible, he invoked Criminal Code Article 224 which says it's a crime for anyone to refuse to testify when requested to by a court.

Victor Da Costa, Ken Buddha Kusumandaru and Ign. Putut Arintoko said they could not testify in a trial which they said had been engineered to ensure Budiman's conviction.

The accusation brought a sweeping retort from Judge Sjoffinan. "It's none of your business, do you understand?"

He then said he would leave it to the state prosecutors to look into the possibility of initiating court action over the activists' behavior. If found guilty, they face up to nine months in jail.

The three men are also being tried separately for similar offenses. Budiman and the PRD activists have been charged with undermining the state and insulting government officials through their activities under the 1963 Subversion law. Their offenses carry a maximum penalty of death.

Arintoko told the judge that given that he is being tried on similar charges, he feared that his testimony could be selfincriminating.

He said the summons issued by the court was defective for it stated his date of birth incorrectly.

The three men appeared in fine condition yesterday although they have been taking turns to go on hunger strike since Feb. 26 to protest their detention and the trials. They all wore red bands on their left arms reading "PRD hunger strike."

Earlier yesterday the court heard the testimony of Bambang Widjojanto, the chairman of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), who appeared after ignoring three court summonses.

Bambang lodged a protest with the court, insisting that as a member of Budiman's defense team he had a privileged client-lawyer relationship that made it difficult for him to testify in court.

In his testimony' Bambang said he had not known about the activities of the PRD activists even though they had used the YLBHI office for some of their meetings.

"In principle, YLBHI allows all movements for democracy and human rights to use our office," he said.

The court also heard the testimony of Yamin M. Saleh, the member of staff at Bogor's sociopolitical office who interviewed Budiman in 1988 after the headmaster of the SMAN 5 high school alerted the authorities to Budiman's activities.

Yamin said Budiman admitted he was establishing a discussion group called MaIx House, and was studying the 'new left' concept.

Yamin presented the transcript of the interview to the court as evidence. (05)