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Garuda Files Appeal in Tommy Soeharto Case

Garuda Indonesia to Appeal Court Ruling That Found Airline Guilty of Victimizing Hutomo Tommy Mandala Putra in Coverage of Bali Pecatu Project.

(6/24/2011) Bisnis Indonesia reports that Garuda Indonesia has declared its intent to appeal a decision by the South Jakarta Court that ordered the airline to pay Rp. 12.5 billion (US$1.42 million) in damages to the Hutomo “Tommy” Mandala Putra, the youngest Son of Indonesia’s former president Soeharto, for calling him a ”convicted murderer” in its December 2009 in-flight magazine.

Tommy was sentenced to a 15-year prison term in 2002 for his role in the murder of a Supreme Court justice, Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, who had earlier ruled against him in a graft case. Reduced to ten years imprisonment on appeal, he was released from prison in October 2006 after spending four years in prison.

In an article in the December 2009 edition of  the Garuda In-Flight magazine on the Pecatu area of Bali titled “A New Destination to Enjoy in Bali" the text stated: “Tommy Soeharto, the owner of the complex, is a convicted murderer.”

In arguments that were upheld by the Jakarta courts, Tommy’s lawyers said their client had paid his debt to society and it was no longer appropriate to dig up his past conviction, that in any case Garuda’s In-flight Magazine was not a “news publication” with a legitimate interest in such reporting and that the news had cost their client valuable business at his Pecatu investment.

Garuda’s legal representative, Ahmad Maulana, is arguing that the judge erred in ruling in Tommy’s favor, claiming the party at fault was the translator of the article and the failure of the magazine’s editors to correct the offending statement was a matter of unintentional error.

Maulana said that upon discovery of the error the magazine’s publishers and Garuda Indonesia endeavored to remove copies of the magazine from circulation and mediate a solution with Tommy.

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