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Court rejects rights activists' demurrer in defamation case filed by Minister Luhut

Kompas.com - May 23, 2023

Singgih Wiryono, Jakarta – Andi Muhammad Rezaldy, from the Advocacy Team for Democracy, says that the court's ruling on a demurrer (eksepsi) or note of objection in the defamation case filed by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan against defendants Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar did not consider all the arguments presented.

According to Rezaldy, in rejecting the demurrer the judges failed to consider the arguments that were important in his clients' memorandum of defense.

"Even in the interim ruling, the judge did not mention or consider Statement Number 644/PM.00/AC/V/2023 on the opinion of the Komnas HAM [the Indonesian Human Rights Commission] in the East Jakarta District Court in the Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti cases", said Rezaldy in a written statement on Tuesday May 23.

"Yet based on Article 89 Paragraph 3h the panel of judges must notify the parties with regard to the Komnas HAM opinion", he added.

The head of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) legal division said that Azhar and Maulidiyanti should not be prosecuted under either criminal or civil law based on Article 66 of Law Number 32/2009 on Environmental Protection and Management (PPLH).

He said the judge should adhere to Supreme Court Chief Justice Decision Number 36/KMA/SK/II/2013 on Guidelines for Handling PPKH Cases.

"In this decision it states that it can be filed in provisional rulings, exceptions or in counter lawsuits (in civil cases) or in defenses (in criminal cases) and must be ruled on in advance in an interim decision", said Rezaldy.

Furthermore, said Rezaldy, under the guidelines on the interpretation of the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law, the subject of the indictment cannot be cited as part of the judges' considerations in continuing the criminal case that his clients' are undergoing.

Yet according to Rezaldy, the nature of these guidelines are very essential as part of an agreement with law enforcement officials not to charge people for expressing an assessment, opinion or evaluation.

"Based on the interim ruling that has been read out, we deeply regret the judges' attitude in rejecting our demurrer. The panel of judges should be able to astutely study this case more deeply and objectively consider the arguments in the demurrer by Fatia and Haris' lawyer", he said.

Earlier, the panel of judges of the East Jakarta District Court rejected the demurrer delivered by the defendants Azhar and Maulidiyanti.

"We hereby pronounce that the demurrer by the defendant's legal counsel cannot be accepted", said Chief Justice Cokorda Gede Arthana at the fourth hearing attended by Azhar and Maulidiyanti on Monday May 22.

As a result of the rejection in the examination of criminal cases Number 202/Pidsus/2023/PNJAKTIM, the case will be continued.

"We ordered the public prosecutor to continue this case. The next stage, the examination of witnesses will be at the next hearing on May 29, 2023", said Arthana.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Eksepsi Fatia-Haris Ditolak, Tim Advokasi: Hakim Tidak Pertimbangkan Seluruh Dalil yang Dinyatakan".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2023/05/23/23251151/eksepsi-fatia-haris-ditolak-tim-advokasi-hakim-tidak-pertimbangkan-seluru