Teguh Firmansyah, Jakarta – Lokataru Foundation for Human Rights Executive Director Haris Azhar and former Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti have spoken out after being found not guilty in a defamation case brought against them by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.
As a result of the court's verdict, Azhar and Maulidiyanti have escaped long prison sentences.
Azhar specifically expressed his appreciation for the work of their lawyers saying he felt they were able to be acquitted thanks to the help of the legal team throughout the trial.
"They worked with knowledge, with skill, dedication, energy and an extraordinary amount of time ... once again I say the team of lawyers worked ceaselessly, [they were] exceptional", Azhar told reporters after the verdict was read out at the East Jakarta District Court on Monday January 8.
Haris views their acquittal as being inseparable from the role played by public support and is convinced this support was their strength in the trial.
"This was a social movement that was manifested very very well in the courtroom. This is what we call court activism that sides with human rights and the environment", said Azhar.
Maulidiyanti meanwhile also praised the legal team for the dedication provided during the legal proceedings but warned that the verdict is not the end, but part of a democratic journey in Indonesia.
"Our acquittal is not the end of a long journey of democracy in Indonesia, which I think must still need consistency", she said.
Maulidiyanti also said she hopes that the case which ensnared them can be a lesson for other activists. She hopes that this unceasing public support not be just for them, but for all human rights defenders and wants the sense of solidarity that flowed throughout their trial to be maintained for the sake of upholding human rights.
"To all social movements that are out there now that have made such a great effort, always stand in solidarity and I hope that this solidarity does not just stop with both of us but also in many other moments for democratic independence, human rights, justice, and an environment that is clean and healthy and also anti-corruption", said Maulidiyanti.
Previously, the prosecution had demanded a sentence of four years in prison and a fine of 1 million rupiah or an additional six months in prison for Azhar and 3 years six months in prison and a fine of 500 thousand rupiah or an additional for three months in prison for Maulidiyanti.
In the prosecution's view, the pair were proven legally and convincingly guilty of defamation as regulated by Article 27 Paragraph 3 in conjunction with Article 45 Paragraph 3 of the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph 1 of the 1st Criminal Code (KUHP).
But the panel of judges considered that the charges against Azhar and Maulidiyanti did not fulfilling the legal elements necessary for a conviction and acquitted both of them.
The case began with a discussion between Azhar and Maulidiyanti in a video uploaded on Azhar's YouTube account titled There is Lord Luhut behind the Economic Relations-Military Operations in Intan Jaya!! There are also State Intelligence Agency Generals!! NgeHAMtam.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Ini Respons Haris dan Fatia Seusai Divonis Bebas".]