Tue, 13 Jun 2000

Defendant tries to commit suicide

JAKARTA (JP): A defendant tried to jump off the second floor of the Central Jakarta District Court on Monday upon hearing the prosecutor's demand that the court sentence her to nine years in jail for her alleged attempt to smuggle 20 kilograms of marijuana into the capital last December.

Defendant Linda Manurung, 36, broke into tears and started screaming: "I don't want to ... I don't want to ...," after prosecutor Gusnani finished reading her indictment that the court sentence the woman to nine years in jail and order her to pay a Rp 5 million (US$588) fine for her alleged smuggling attempt.

When judge Sri Muwarti adjourned the hearing until next Monday where the court would hear the defendant's response, a wailing Linda bolted out of the courtroom, put one foot on the walled fence of the second floor and was about to jump when reporters and court officials pulled her to safety.

"Don't touch me... I want to go. Don't touch me," Linda kept screaming.

More court officials and police officers came to the rescue and tried to subdue the defendant, who was wildly trying to push away the officials to get back on the wall.

Muwarti and Gusnani, like other shocked bystanders, could only stand and stare at the whole scene.

Earlier, Gusnani told a hearing at the district court that Linda was arrested along with three men for possession of 20 kilograms of marijuana at Hotel Cempaka on Jl. Letjen Soeprapto in Cempaka Putih district, Central Jakarta, on Dec. 6 last year.

"She was arrested along with businessmen Maribun Marimbing, 28, Parlin Sitorus, 32, and Michael Nainggolan, 29, in room 213 of the hotel," Gusnani said.

The prosecutor said the defendant had violated Paragraph 1b of Article 78 of the Narcotics Law No. 22/1997, which carries a maximum 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of Rp 500 million.

As reported earlier, Linda told the Central Jakarta Police when she was arrested that she had come to Jakarta in late November last year to sell the marijuana.

"I originally come from Medan, North Sumatra. That's where my unemployed husband and my six kids, all of them girls, live," she said.

She said that since 1995, her husband, a former security guard, told her that until she gave birth to a boy he would no longer work.

"He told me in 1995 that I was a foolish woman for giving birth to girls only. He hasn't worked since. I was scared that me and my six girls might starve soon," Linda said.

"So, I took a bus to Aceh, got the marijuana and came back to Medan. From Medan, I came to Jakarta where I was arrested."

In a separate courtroom, Judge Sri Endang Sumiarsih furiously scolded the defendant for trying to postpone a long-awaited trial until Tuesday, where the court will hear the response of a defendant in an alleged theft case.

Defendant Hartono Budiono just sat staring at the judge, while she loudly scolded him for trying the patience of the court.

Hartono requested the postponement on the basis that he was suffering from a toothache. He came to the court, without a doctor's letter from the Salemba Detention Center in Central Jakarta.

"You are insulting me and the court. You say you have a toothache now... tomorrow you'll say you have something else and get some doctor's letter," Sumiarsih told the defendant.

Hartono's lawyers Eric S. Paat and Pablo Christalo could only sit quietly until Sumiarsih adjourned the court for five minutes to discuss with the two other members of the panel of judges.

Upon reconvening the court, she informed the defendant that the judges had come to a compromise.

"I'll read from the police reports, and you'll just answer yes or no. Now, stand up," Sumiarsih ordered the defendant.

When Hartono did not, she badgered him that when he entered the court, his legs were fine so he did not have any reason not to stand up.

Hartono still did not stand up. Sumiarsih finally adjourned the trial until Tuesday. (ylt)