Jakarta – The private secretary of one of Indonesia's founding fathers was put on trial in Jakarta Tuesday, for insulting president Suharto by printing a booklet written by his employer. Jenny Grant reports it is the latest in a string of political trials in Indonesia.
State prosecutors at the south Jakarta district court said 34 year old Buyung Rachmat Buchori printed 10-thousand copies of a booklet entitled "New Era, New Leadership" in January. they say allegations made in the book are insulting to the president.
The booklet was written by Mr. Buyung's employer, Subadio Sastrosatomo. he was one of the youngest in a group who proclaimed Indonesian Independence in 1945. He went on to lead the Indonesian Socialist Party, and is now renowned for his books and articles which criticize the government.
The 18-page "New Era, New Leadership" accuses president Suharto of being a liar and using the nation for his personal profit. Mr. Sastrosatomo names the national car project, awarded to one of Mr Suharto's sons – and the Freeport gold and copper mine in Irian Jaya headed by a long-time associate of president Suharto – as examples of alleged nepotism by the president.
Lawyer Hendardi from the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association says the government is prosecuting Mr. Buyung to scare anyone who is working with government critics. He says the political cost for the government would be too high if it brought the respected Mr. Sastrosatomo to trial.
Human rights advocate Johannes Princen also told V-O-A it is unlikely Mr. Sastrosatomo will brought to trial himself, given his prominent role in founding the nation.
Insulting the president or vice president carries a maximum sentence of six years in jail.
In a similar case in April, a Jakarta court sentenced Andi Syaputera to two and a half years in jail for insulting the head of state by disseminating printed materials that insulted the president. The magazine he distributed, "Suara Independen," was published from the Australian city of Melbourne by a group linked to the Alliance of Independent Journalists.
Mr Buyung's case is the latest in a number of highly politicized trials of activists, trade unionists and government opponents. So far this year the government has jailed parliamentarian Aberson Sihaloho, trade unionist Muchtar Pakpahan and outspoken former member of parliament, Sri Bintang Pamungkas.
In april, 14 pro-democracy activists from the Peoples Democratic Party were jailed for up to 13 years on charges of subversion.