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Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Bali Court Rules in Favor of Bali Governor Made Pastika in Suit Against The Bali Post

(7/20/2012) Radar Bali reports that Bali governor Made Mangku Pastika has won his suit against The Bali Post.

In a session held at the Denpasar District Court on Tuesday, July 17, 2012, a panel of judges led by Amzer Simanjuntak affirmed the complaint made by the governor against Bali’s leading Indonesian language daily newspaper.

The judges ruled that The Bali Post is required to publicly issue an apology to the governor for having published news ruled to have been incorrect in its reporting of statements made by the governor. The Court’s ruling declared that The Bali Post must print a full-page apology for 6 consecutive days and well as make similar public apologies in several local newspapers – Warta Bali, Nusa Bali and Bali Tribun –each on two consecutive days. Single day apologies are also required in Fajar Bali and Radar Bali.

All the apologies must be in full-page format in each of the stipulated publications.

The panel of judges ruled that the news published by The Bali Post on September 19, 2011 under the headline “Governor: Dismantle the Traditional Villages” was inappropriate and violated the journalistic code of ethic and the National Press Law.

“The actions of the Bali Post that indicated the governor of Bali would dismantle the traditional villages (desa pakraman) appears to be in violation of the presumption of innocence, was information that was inappropriate, incorrect, inaccurate as set forth in the Press Law No. 40 of 1999,” explained chief judge Amzer Simanjuntak.

Based on the testimony of witnesses, including expert witnesses, the judicial panel said the news presented by The Bali Post was tendentious and served to cause unrest among religious and traditional leaders together with the general public in Bali

The judges also ruled that if The Bali Post does not meet its obligations under their ruling then the Chief Editor (Nyoman Wirata), PT Bali Post (the owning company) and Putra (a Bali Post reporter) must jointly pay Rp. 2 million (US$213) each day calculated from the day the courts ruling earns the status of a fixed ruling (i.e. when all avenues of appeal are exhausted).

Not all of the governor’s claims against The Bali Post were accepted by the Court. The governor’s demand for Rp. 150.17 billion (US$16.1 million) in immaterial damages was rejected by the court.

The Bali Post’s legal team lead by Suryatin Lijaya has 14 days from the issuance of their decision to lodge an appeal. Suryatin told the press after the court session that The Bali Post would appeal the court’s decision, accusing the judges of being mistaken in their interpretation of the law.

Suryatin maintains that the governor did, in fact, call for the dismantling of the traditional villages, a fact he claims was demonstrated in recordings presented as evidence to the court.

Separately, the lawyer for the governor, Simon Nahak, said he was sufficiently pleased with the Court’s ruling, even though all elements of his client’s demands were not fulfilled. He also said he stood ready to reply to any appeal of the Court’s ruling lodged by the newspaper’s legal team. Saying the money sought for damages was less consequential than defending credibility, accountability and the pursuit of justice.

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