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The judges turn to leave before the trial was closed

Kompas - March 20, 1997

Jakarta – The trial of a PRD activist in the Jakarta state court on Wednesday (19/3), was again coloured by "walk-out" actions by the accused and defense lawyer. However in the trial of Garda Sembiring, one of the members of the panel of judges left the courtroom although the trial had not been closed by the presiding judge Madnjono.

"Enough, [I] will rest first. The reading of the witnesses statements can be continued later" said Suhardjo. Furthermore, he got up straight away and walked out of the courtroom. This happened even though Judge M Farela was still reading a statement by witness Dita Indah Sari.

Because one of the judges had got up, Madnjono stood and said "The court will now adjourn". But he did not say for how long, because he then left the court directly. After the trial was closed, he only then told the prosecutor that the adjournment would be for half-an-hour.

The accused 'walk-out'

After hearing evidence from Srirono, a personal officer from Great River Industries, the prosecutor asked permission from the presiding judge to read out the statements in Dita Indah Sari's Preliminary Investigation Report (BAP). Although given permission the it could not be read out because of a protest by the defense attorney.

"The witness is currently being held in Surabaya [East Java - JB]. There is no logical bases, that the court cannot present the witness. Is the court unwilling or does not have [enough - JB] money" said Daniel Panjaitan, one of the accused defense lawyers.

Judge Farela said that up until 15 March, they still wasn't permission to bring Dita Sari, who is being tried in the Surabaya state court. Because of that, the witnesses' statement would be read. Unsatisfied by the decision, the defense lawyer left the court room. Garda was left in court. But Garda protested when the statement was being read. "Will this trial be continued, while I am threatened with the death penalty and not accompanied by a defense lawyer", he said.

Madnjono said that the accused defense lawyer left the court on his own accord. The prosecutor was asked to continue reading the statement. In the end, Garda Sembiring also left court room.

[Abridged translation from Kompas - James Balowski]