Class action against military emergency in Aceh adjourned

Source – August 20, 2003
SPR leading attorney Habiburokhman (RMOL)
SPR leading attorney Habiburokhman (RMOL)

Maryadi, Jakarta – A class action by the People’s Lawyers Union (Serikat Pengacara Rakyat, SPR) against President Megawati Sukarnoputri over the declaration of a military emergency in Aceh has been adjourned again. The adjournment, the second one [since the action was launched], was because neither the defendant or their legal council were present.

The decision to adjourn the hearing was taken by a panel of judges presided over by Panusunan Harahap on Wednesday (20/8) at the Central Jakarta state court, after waiting until around 1.20pm. The defendant’s legal council also failed to appear.

During the hearing which continued briefly, SBR was able to present a request that the panel of judges deliver a verstek [default judgment], that is a decision that the suit can be read and admitted without the defendant being present.

The panel of judges however rejected the request on the grounds that they would give the defendant another opportunity to appear before the court. The case will re-adjourned on September 8.

The SPR team, lead by Habiburokhman and Sri Bintang Pamungkas, launched the class action against the First defendant, President Megawati, the Second defendant, armed forces chief General Endriartono Sutarto and the Third defendant, the chairperson of the People’s Representative Assembly, Akbar Tandjung, over Presidential Decree Number 28/2003 which declared a military emergency in Aceh.

The plaintiffs [in the case] considered that the declaration of a military emergency represents an illegal act because it has resulted in misery, fear and has consumed may victims, both civilians and military. Aside from this, the implementation of the military emergency will devour a large amount of funds from the state and regional administration budget.

Therefore the plaintiffs demanded that the decree be revoked and that the defendant return all of the funds for the military operation in Aceh. The defendant, was also asked to apologize to the plaintiffs [the people of Aceh] in nine national media outlets including the print media, television and internet, and pay compensation to the families of the victims [of the military operation].

This was the second adjournment. The first hearing on Thursday August 4 was also adjourned because the defendant’s legal council failed to appear. (gtp)

[Translated by James Balowski.]