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PRD activists get six and four years

Agence France Presse - April 22, 1997 (Abridged, from Tapol)

A court in East Java Tuesday handed down six and four year jail sentences for two pro-democracy activists accused of subversion, their lawyer said.

The court handed the sentences to Dita Indah Sari and Coen Pontoh for the PRD for inciting labour riots (sic) in the province.

'The two were very calm, even smiling, when the sentences were read out since they knew that they would be found guilty as this trial has been so politicised,' one of their lawyers, Nurbadia told AFP by phone.

She said the judge found Dita, 24, and Coen Pntoh, 27, guilty of inciting riots and also of being members of the unrecognised PRD. Both are appealing their sentences, she added.

'I'm not surprised. This was a political trial and the judges were not free,' said Trimulya Suryadi, another laywer of the pair.

Nurbadia said the court session was attended by hundreds of ppeople and heavily secured by police who checked the identities of all the court attendees.

Dita's sentence was longer because the court found her guilty of inciting more labour riots (sic) than Coen, Nurbadia said. The prosecutor had earlier asked for eight years for Dita Sari and six years for Coen.

The two were detained shortly after a mass labour strike nearby Surabaya in early July last year. The police violently broke up the march of some four thousand workers from ten factories in the industrial areas of Tandes, Ssurabaya, as two workers' groups were trying to join forces and walk to another factory. The demonstrators were demanding a 75 per cent increase in their daily wag from 4,000 to 7,000 rupiah ($1.70 to $3.00) a day.

[Additional note: Their colleague M, Sholeh who was tried separately is expected to be sentenced soon.]