Sat, 22 Feb 2003

AJI demands Sutiyoso obey court

Ahmad Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Lawyers of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) said on Friday that they would demand an immediate execution of the Central Jakarta District Court's ruling last month ordering Governor Sutiyoso to apologize to AJI for intimidating a Warta Kota daily journalist.

"We will ask the court to force Sutiyoso to apologize to AJI," one of the lawyers, Azas Tigor Nainggolan, told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of a function at AJI's office in Central Jakarta to celebrate AJI's victory in its lawsuit against Sutiyoso.

Tigor said Sutiyoso could send a letter of apology to Edi Hariyadi through AJI, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the journalist.

He said the court should force the governor and his officials to apologize, since they had not appealed the court ruling.

"It's been more than 14 days since the court issued the ruling favoring us. Their (the defendants') time to appeal has passed," Tigor said, referring to the Criminal Law Procedures Code, which stipulates that a convict has 14 days to decide whether to file an appeal against a court ruling or not.

Besides Sutiyoso, the court, in its Jan. 28 decision, also ordered the East Jakarta mayor, the East Jakarta public order office chief and public order official Dapot Manihuruk to apologize to Edi Hariyadi.

The incident occurred on March 27 last year when Edi was covering the activities of city public order officials who were evicting illegal settlers along the Cakung riverbank in Cilincing, East Jakarta.

One of the officers, Dapot, attempted but failed to stop Edi from closely observing the eviction. Since then Edi frequently received phone threats from Dapot.

AJI's victory was the first lawsuit won by a non-governmental organization against government officials. Last year, some becak (pedicab) drivers, as individuals, won a class action suit against the city administration for seizing their becak following a raid. The city administration has appealed the ruling.

Separately, city spokesman Muhayat said on Friday that the AJI case was being handled by the city administration's legal office.

"We have yet to receive a report from the legal office on whether we have appealed or not," Muhayat told the Post.