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Indonesian cops face jail for journalist attack

Court convicts pair of beating reporter at wedding reception of scandal-hit official's daughter

Indonesian cops face jail for journalist attack

The Alliance of Independent Journalists stages a protest in Jakarta on Jan. 11 against two police officers on trial for attacking a journalist with the Tempo news portal last year. (Photo courtesy of AJI Jakarta)

Two Indonesian police officers have been sentenced to 10 months in prison for beating a reporter at a wedding reception in a case that sparked widespread protests from journalists and press freedom advocates.

Purwanto and Muhammad Firman Subkhi were convicted by Surabaya District Court in East Java on Jan. 12 of assaulting a journalist with the Tempo news portal.

They were also ordered to pay 13.8 million rupiah (US$966) in compensation to the journalist called Nurhadi and 21.8 million rupiah to a witness.

Both officers, however, remain free after being given a week to appeal the sentence, which was lighter than the 18 months demanded by prosecutors.

The officers attacked Nurhadi in March last year while he was trying to report on a bribery scandal involving Angin Prayitno Aji, the former director of investigations and tax collection at the Finance Ministry. They were moonlighting as Aji’s bodyguards.

They claimed they were trying to prevent the reporter from gatecrashing the wedding reception of Aji’s daughter in Surabaya.

At least it set a precedent because finally police officers who have committed violence against a journalist have been brought to court, found guilty and given a punishment

However, the court was told that while Nurhadi was taking photos at the reception, the policemen grabbed and then dragged him to a nearby building, where they beat, interrogated and forced him to hand over his mobile phone. They then deleted files on the phone before destroying the SIM card. 

Sasmito Madrim, chairman of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), who attended the trial, welcomed the fact the court had convicted the pair but said the sentence did not meet the AJI’s expectations or befit the crime.

“At least it set a precedent because finally police officers who have committed violence against a journalist have been brought to court, found guilty and given a punishment,” he told UCA News.

The AJI had previously staged protests in Jakarta and more than 21 cities following the attack. The latest was held on Jan. 11, the day before the court delivered its verdict. 

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