Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – Febi Nur Amelia, a 29-year-old resident of North Sumatra, has been acquitted of all defamation charges after the Medan District Court found that her disputed Instagram post was simply an attempt to ask for her money back from an acquaintance who had yet to repay a Rp 70 million (US$4,710) debt.
Presiding judge Sri Wahyuni Batubara, said the defendant had not been proven guilty of having defamed Fitriani Manurung, her former friend and the wife of a police officer, who accused Febi of insulting her by writing a post about the debt on social media.
Sri said the defendant had resorted to publicly posting about the debt on Instagram because there was no other way of contacting Fitriani regarding the matter.
"We hereby rule that Febi Nur Amelia has not been legally proven guilty of any charges," Sri said during the ruling on Tuesday.
Fitriani was found to have borrowed the funds from the defendant in 2016 through her husband's bank account, the court said.
The defendant had tried to amicably discuss Fitriani's debt through WhatsApp, only to be blocked by the latter, Sri added.
Febi expressed relief about the ruling, saying it was a just decision. "I thank the panel of judges. There's still justice in this court after all," she told The Jakarta Post following the ruling.
She said she had been anxious about the ruling because the prosecutors were seeking a two-year prison term for her, even though Febi believed that she was a victim in the case.
"I was the one who was owed [money], yet I was also the one being charged. It's odd," she said.
Febi had been charged under articles 27 and 45 on defamation of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law for attempting to ask for her money back from Fitriani through Instagram.
In December 2016, Fitriani reportedly borrowed about Rp 70 million from Febi. In 2017, the latter tried to collect the debt but to no avail. Fitriani blocked Febi's phone number in response.
Febi sent a direct message to Fitriani's Instagram account sometime in 2019 to ask for the money, but Fitriani said she did not recognize her. She blocked Febi's account for a second time.
She then posted on Instagram saying "I've suddenly remembered the wife of a police officer who has yet to repay my money, amounting to Rp 70 million, [which she has owed] for years @Fitri_Bakhtiar. I would easily let the money go if the borrower was poor, but it's different in this case because the borrower is rich, so I have to reclaim the money."
During a previous hearing, prosecutor Randi Tambunan argued that Febi had no right to "slander" Fitriani in her attempt to collect the debt on social media. Fitriani has also denied having a debt to Febi and said the Instagram post had harmed her. (rfa)