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Press Freedom Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

Multi-Million Dollar Suit by Bali Governor Pastika Against Bali Post Enters 40-Day Period of Court-Ordered Mediation

(12/18/2011) A legal action by Bali Governor Made Pastika against The Bali Post went to court on Thursday, December 15, 2011, with the presiding judge, Amzer Simandjuntak, issuing an order giving both sides forty days in which to mediate a settlement before proceeding to formal trial.

As reported by Tempo.co, Amzer said: “If they can peacefully settle the case there is no need for another court session.” The court appointed Jhon Pieter as the referee during the mediation period.

At Thursday’s court session, neither Robert Khuana, representing Pastika, nor Nyoman Sudiantara, representing The Bali Post, put forth a name to lead the mediation process. Following the hearing, Khuana said his side was “open wide” for a peaceful settlement providing The Bali Post admit their mistake in publishing misleading and incorrect news reports and formally apologize. “That would be a just settlement in our eyes,” said Khuana.

Pastika is seeking Ro. 150 billion (US$16.6 million) for damage done to the governor’s name and reputation.

Counter demands from The Bali Post, repeated daily via the front pages of the newspaper over the past week,  that Pastika should content himself with the “right of response” was seen as Khuana as not relevant given the baseless nature of original news report. Khuana said the “right of response” only applies for violations of the journalist code of ethics, which is not applicable in the current case.”

Pastika’s attorney also called on The Bali Post to cease trying to pressure the governor to settle the case via the front pages of their newspaper,  if, in fact, they are genuinely sincere in their wish to seek a peaceful settlement.

In response, Sudiantara also expressed his hopes for a peaceful resolution, while insisting that The Bali Post remains steadfast is insisting the governor use his “right of response.”

The case traces back to September 17, 2011, and civil unrest that erupted between two traditional villages in Klungkung resulted in injuries and one death. One day after the incident the Governor inspected the location of the conflict.

On September 19, 2011 The Bali Post misquoted the Governor as calling for the dissolution of the traditional villages system in Bali. The Governor insisted he never made such a statement and reported The Bali Post to the Press Council, claiming newspaper had failed to send a reporter to the actual event where the Governor was purported to have made the statement.

Not content to settle the case with simply a rebuttal statement, Pastika is seeking a public apology in the matter and financial compensation if the case goes to court. Pastika has pledged to donate any damages awarded by the court to traditional village units across Bali.

Related Articles

[Governor Pastika: Prepared to Fight ‘Till the Death]

[First Round Goes to Governor Pastika]

[Governor’s Suit Against Bali Post Continues]

[Bali Governor Sues Bali Post for US$11.1 million]

[Villagers Clash in Klungkung]