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Budiman Sudjatmiko gets 13 years

Kompas - April 29, 1997

Jakarta – Nine of the People's Democratic Party (PRD) were sentenced earlier today (28/4) to prison sentences of up to 13 years. The accused refused to attend the reading of the court's verdict after declaring that they had lost their trust in the Indonesian justice system.

Garda Sembiring, Jakobus Eko Kurniawan, Ignatius Damianus Pranowo and Suroso stormed out of the courthouse after saying that they would no longer participate in what they considered a farce. The judges said that they had nothing against the decision by the accused to leave the premisses. Outside the court, dozens of students and youth staged a demonstration in support of the jailed PRD activists. The protesters marched down Gadjah Mada street and gathered in front of a large mall. They were quickly dispersed by security forces who arrested five people for inciting the demonstrations.

Undermine Pancasila

Three of the judges who passed today's sentences said that there was irrefutable evidence of the activists' involvement in subversive behaviour. The five accused had pointedly sought to undermine the authorities of the land, especially the teachings of the Pancasila and the authority of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) and the constitution (UU). Furthermore, they had distorted the record of the government under the New Order. Such behaviour, said the judges, not only seeks to discredit the achievements of the New Order but also tries to destabilise the economic and social stability of the nation.

According to Dr. Afan Gaffar, expert witness for the prosecution, the actions undertaken by the accused and the PRD in general are not representative of the masses. Even the working classes were used as mere tools for the PRD's ulterior motives.

"Allegations by the PRD that the New Order government killed as many as 1,5 million people during 1965 are not supported by evidence. Furthermore, the PRD's hostility towards the New Order went beyond all reason when they gave special 'PRD Awards' to individuals who were known for their opposition to the government," said the chairman of the judges' panel which sentenced Budiman Sudjatmiko.

As to the accusation by the PRD activists that there was no democracy in Indonesia, it is absolutely untrue. Democracy in Indonesia is not yet as it is hoped it would be, but the New Order government is very attentive to the criticisms from society.

Concerning the walk outs staged by the accused during the trial, the judges said that such behaviour had only made things more difficult and showed that the PRD activists did not want to acknowledge their responsibility for what they had done. However, the judges took in consideration the fact that the accused were young and had no criminal record. The five accused now have to pay for court expenses. Budiman Sudjatmiko and Garda Sembiring will be charged 7,500 rupiahs (1USD = 2,400 rps) whereas the three others will be charged 5,000 rps.

PRD speech under scrutiny

The chairman of the judges' panel asked the state prosecutor to question Budiman further. This request comes in connection with the speech made last Monday (21/4) by the accused on occasion of the court's consent to allow them make a plea to the court. "The political speech made by the accused had nothing to do with the trial's evidence and contradicted the criminal code. A trial is not the venue for such a speech. In addition, the speech was made in contempt of court. As a result, the judges' panel has requested the prosecutor to question Budiman in another trial," said the chairman of the judges' panel.

The prosecutor is awaiting for an original copy of the speech and will examine it before deciding to formally charge Budiman for attempting to discredit the New Order and President Soeharto.