Wed, 13 Aug 2003

Editor faces jail for libel

JAKARTA: State prosecutors demanded on Tuesday a five-month prison sentence for the chief editor of Jakarta-based Rakyat Merdeka daily, Karim Paputungan, for libeling House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung.

Prosecutor Nana Mulyana told the South Jakarta District Court that Karim deliberately published a picture on the front page of the paper's Jan. 8, 2002, edition that defamed Akbar.

"The daily attacked Akbar's reputation and image," Nana said.

The offense carries a maximum sentence of 16 months in prison.

The caricature was published after a court sentenced Akbar to three years in jail for his role in a Rp 40 billion (US$4.8 million) corruption case that took place in 1999, when he was the minister/secretary of state. Akbar remains free pending the Supreme Court's hearing of his appeal.

Presiding judge Asnahwati adjourned the trial until next week.

Another editor of the daily, Supratman, is on trial for publishing stories deemed insulting to President Megawati Soekarnoputri. -- JP