Fri, 14 Feb 2003

City flood victims appeal against court ruling

Evi Mariani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Disappointed with the Nov. 21, 2002 ruling of the Central Jakarta District Court, which rejected their class action suit against the defendants, including City Governor Sutiyoso, the plaintiffs announced on Thursday that they would file an appeal with the Jakarta High Court over the lower court's verdict.

Tubagus Haryo Karbyanto, secretary of the advocacy team for the plaintiffs, said the governor must also be held accountable for last year's flooding.

"The mayors are indeed the ones directly responsible for the operational task of handling the floods, but the Jakarta Governor, the West Java Governor (R. Nuriana) and the President were responsible for coordinating the operation," Tubagus said, while representing the plaintiffs -- the victims of last year's flooding in the capital.

Sutiyoso, Nuriana and Megawati have been named as the accused by the plaintiffs in their lawsuit.

Tubagus said the three accused had failed to properly coordinate their subordinates in handling last year's floods.

"The mistakes committed by the subordinates are the responsibility of their superiors," he said, while addressing a media conference at the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH-Jakarta) in Central Jakarta.

The lawyer was commenting on the legal arguments provided by the district court, which asserted that the plaintiffs had sued the wrong persons.

The court had said that the officials directly responsible for handling the flood and its aftermath were Jakarta's five mayors.

Tubagus also said in the media conference that the district court had failed to take into account Law No. 34/1999 on the Jakarta Administration, which gives the governor of Jakarta the power to take full control of the capital, unlike other provincial administrations.

"Therefore, the victims will not file a new lawsuit against the mayors."

The accused were sued for their alleged failure to give prior warning to Jakartans and to provide necessary emergency action after the floods, which forced more than 97,000 families or 365,000 people to leave their homes and seek temporary shelter for several weeks.