Fri, 19 Aug 1994

Ten pro-democracy students to be released

JAKARTA (JP): Ten students jailed on charges of insulting President Soeharto will soon be released by order of the Supreme Court, their lawyers said yesterday.

Student sources said their colleagues, nine in the Salemba penitentiary and one in Pondok Bambu womens penitentiary, would be freed this morning.

The students are part of the 21 that the Central Jakarta district court found guilty in June of defaming Soeharto during a demonstration in December of last year.

The students should have been released on Aug. 14 even if the Supreme Court upheld the Jakarta High Court ruling to sentence them to eight months imprisonment. The other 11 students received between 10 and 14 month jail terms.

The lawyers, from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) and the Indonesian Bar Association (Ikadin), represented the students in the lower court. However, they said yesterday said they never appealed to the Supreme Court on the students' behalf.

They acknowledged, however, that they wrote to the Supreme Court asking for its intervention to ensure that the students would be released when their terms were up.

Rita Serena Kolibonso of the LBH said the lawyers obtained the Supreme Court's letter ordering the central Jakarta district court and the Salemba penitentiary to release the students yesterday.

"The defense lawyers welcome the Supreme Court's positive response to the efforts' to improve the implementation of the laws in the students' cases," Rita said.

She said the lawyers are still waiting for the Supreme Court's response to their request that the 11 remaining student detainees also be freed.

The twist in the students' sentencing began when the prosecutors could not accept the six month sentences that were handed down by the Central Jakarta District Court.

The prosecutors appealed. The high court not only upheld the district court's guilty verdicts but also added several months to the sentences, which ranged between eight and 14 months. (pan)