Thu, 12 Feb 2004

Students get suspended jail term in hostage case

YOGYAKARTA: The Bantul District Court handed down on Wednesday a suspended sentence of six months in jail and one year probation to two students for holding journalists hostage two years ago on campus.

Wendy HS and Desi Suryanto were students at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Fine Arts Institute (ISI Yogyakarta) at the time of the incident.

A suspended jail term means that the students will not serve their six-month terms unless they commit a crime within the one- year probation period.

Reading out the verdict, presiding judge Gunawan Gusmo said the students were found guilty of holding four journalists hostage on Aug. 6, 2002.

Kedaulatan Rakyat reporters Efi Widjojo Putro and Jayadi Khasali, along with Bernas daily reporters Y Suroso and I Gde Nyoman K were held hostage for two hours at the institute while they were covering a student protest on campus.

The students were protesting a decree issued by the rector that banned students from conducting joint activities between academic faculties.

After taking the reporters hostage, the students deleted photo files from Efi's digital camera and exposed a roll of film in Suroso's camera.

Wendy said that the verdict was a good lesson for them. "The case has been going on for a year, and it has been stressful for us. This is a valuable lesson," he said.

The two accepted their verdict.

During the trial, dozens of ISI Yogyakarta students held a rally outside the courthouse, demanding that the two be acquitted. -- JP