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Sri-Bintang appeal rejected

Kompas - May 6, 1997 (Abridged from Tapol)

Former MP Sri Bintang Pamungkas was moved from a detention cell at the attorney-general's office [where he has been held since 6 March] to Cipinang Prison, Jakarta, to serve a 34 month sentence for insulting the president. This followed rejection of his appeal against the verdict by the Supreme Court on 11 April 1997.

He had been found guilty of insulting the head of state during a lecture on economics delivered at the Technical University in Berlin. Pending appeal, Sri-Bintang was not held in custody, but must now serve the sentence.

Sri-Bintang told journalists that he would not be taking the case any further [ie to seek clemency from the President] as he sees the verdict as a 'consequence of struggle'.

Before leaving his cell at the attorney-general's office, he was asked to sign a document releasing him from detention by the attorney-general and transferring him to prison to serve the 34 month sentence, but refused to do so, saying that he had not been officially informed that his sentence would now be implemented. An attorney-general official stated that he had been released from their custody in order to serve his sentence but that he is still a suspect under the anti-subversion law. His interrogation for the subversion case against him will continue. The period he spent in detention by the attorney-general, from 6 March until 5 May would be deducted in the event of his being sentenced in the subversion case.

One of his lawyers, Bambang Widyajanto said that the Supreme Court's ruling on his case had come much faster than is normally the case. 'We only filed it two months ago,' he told journalists. He believes that the case was speeded up to keep him behind bars up until 1998 [the year of the presidential election]. 'Of course, the attorney-general can go on extending the detention order but it's easier to have the 34-month verdict upheld as the way to keep him in custody.'

The lawyer also said that it was regrettable that Sri-Bintang and his family had not yet been notified of the the Supreme Court's finding; he learnt about it from the press.