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Garda and his lawyer 'walk out' of court

Kompas - March 6, 1997

Jakarta – Garda Sembiring, one of the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) members accused of subversion and his lawyer carried out a "walk out" action on Wednesday March 5. This was in response to a decision by the judge to allow the prosecutor to read out a witness' statement in accordance with the Preliminary Investigation Report (BAP).

In a separate trial, Suroso, Pranowo, and Eko Kurniawan also threatened a walk out if the judge did the same. Because Eko's health was becoming worse due to being on a hunger strike for three days, the judge finally decided to have the prosecutor read the testimony of five of the seven witnesses.

The five witnesses who's testimonies were read were: Didit Sutopo, Edy Setyawan, Onang Triyono, Subekti, and Triyanto. They are all PRD activists and workers at PT Sritex (Sukoharjo) in Central Java.

Meanwhile in Garda's trial, the prosecution read the testimonies of eight witnesses: Wirayanti, Didit Sutopo, Edy Setyawan, Albert Novianto, Onang Triyono, Liek Ismunandar, Triyanto, and Admodjo. These witnesses were also PRD members and workers at PT Sritek in Jateng.

Already called

Judge Farela and Abdul Hamid said that they were forced to read the testimonies because the witnesses, who had been called three time, did not appear. The reading was intended so the trial would proceed smoothly. In having the testimonies read, the accused lost the right to cross-examine. "I need to know, if they were questioned normally or under pressure. The presence of these witness would help my case", said Garda. When their request was ignored, Garda and the defense team left the court but the proceedings were continued with the reading of the testimonies.

Thomas E Tampubolon, one of Garda's lawyers said the court had not really tried to get the witnesses to appear, even though they new their addresses. "If he wanted, the court could force the witnesses to appear. For the sake of the law. The grounds that the witnesses cannot pay for the trip to Jakarta and for accommodation cannot be accepted. In the case of Sri Bintang Pamungkas and Oki, the court was able to bring witnesses from Germany and the US. So why if it is only in Indonesia they cannot appear?" he said.

[Abridged translation from Kompas - JB]