Thu, 25 Mar 1999

Upset defendant kicks chair over in courtroom

JAKARTA (JP): A law student from the Indonesian Christian University (UKI) on trial charged with kidnapping a police officer expressed his anger at the court on Wednesday by kicking his chair over.

Defendant Edward Taurus Benyamin Karo-karo asked judge Samsoedin A.B. to change the date of the resumption of his trial next week so it would not fall on Wednesday, which is visiting day at the detention center he is held at. Edward could no longer hold back his anger when the judge repeatedly refused to alter his decision and knocked his gavel to close the trial at the South Jakarta District Court.

Edward rose from the defendant's chair and kicked it. The aluminum chair fell onto the floor in front of him. The gallery appeared stunned.

The nine lawyers from the Indonesian Student Movement Lawyer Team rushed to their client and calmed him.

Supporters of the defendant from the City Forum hugged him, and some were seen crying.

The judge appeared not to want to overreact to the outburst, which could be said to be in contempt of court.

Samsoedin said he did not see the defendant's act as unusual and dishonoring to the court as the defendant was "a young man and emotional".

"I'm also not angry and would not take revenge against him. He is just emotional," he said.

Before the trial was closed to hear the judge's provisional decision, Edward asked Samsoedin to reschedule the next session of his trial to a day other than Wednesday, saying that is the day when relatives of political prisoners at Cipinang prison, where he is currently detained, are allowed to visit.

But Samsoedin refused to grant the defendant's request, saying the court had a tight schedule.

"We'll ask the detention officials to let your relatives visit you on other days. However, you are not a political detainee here (in the court)," he said.

The judge and the defendant carried on a heated argument over the trial scheduling for about 15 minutes.

Dozens of Edward's supporters in the courtroom booed the judge as he refused to reschedule the trial with a knock of his gavel to close the session.

One of the supporters yelled at Samsoedin that the judge was part of the New Order regime.


One of Edward's lawyers, Sonny Warsito, regretted the judge's decision, saying Samsoedin was overly authoritative and discriminated against his client.

"It's not difficult to change the day of the trial from Wednesday to another day," Sonny said.

Edward also seemed disappointed with the judge's decision to reject his lawyers' response to the indictment.

After opening the trial, Samsoedin said in his provisional decision that the indictment statement was clear and accurate.

"The court agreed with the prosecutors' statement. So the trial should continue to examine the content of the indictment," he said.

The prosecutors allege in the indictment that Edward, along with three fellow students, abducted Sgt. Maj. Suratman while he was photographing a student street rally on Jl. Gatot Subroto on Nov. 27 last year.

Two of the three students were identified as Rudy Pahala Simatupang and Alex Situmeang. Rudy has been cleared of involvement, while Alex and the unidentified student remains at large.

The defendant and his friends took the victim to the UKI campus in Cawang, East Jakarta, at about 8 p.m., according to the indictment.

After tying the victim's hands and blindfolding him, the defendant then allegedly took Suratman to the Nusantara Economic Institute on Jl. Panjaitan in East Jakarta.

Suratman, a South Jakarta Police intelligence officer, was later dumped on a street in the Cawang area.

Edward was charged under Article 328 and Article 333 (1) of the Criminal Code, which carry maximum punishments of 12 years in jail and eight years in jail respectively. (jun)