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An Island Most Appealing

Bali Post Files Formal Appeals of Court Decision in Favor of Bali Governor Pastika

(7/27/2012) The Bali Post, via attorney Agus Sujoko and a team of lawters, formally filed an appeal on July 27, 2012, challenging the ruling in favor of Bali’s governor in his suit against Bali’s largest daily newspaper.

The team of lawyers representing the newspaper personally delivered the appeal to the Denpasar High Court.

Sujoko told the press, as reported by The Bali Post, that the basis of the appeal rested on his client’s belief that the judges ruling set aside and did not consider a number of legal facts in coming to their verdict. Among the facts cited by Sujoko was the testimony of the vice-regent of Klungkung Tjokorda Gede Agung who confirmed before the court that the governor did call for the dissolution of the traditional villages (desa pakraman).

Governor Pastika has vehemently and steadfastly denied ever making such a statement.

According to The Bali Post legal team, the governor admitted before the court that he did call for the dissolution of two traditional villages should the two warring communities continued in their open state of conflict.

A member of the newspaper’s legal team, Suryatin Lijaya, had earlier explained that the appeal is based on a misinterpretation of the facts and a misapplication of the law. He said the material presented in the appeal process would revolve around two key issues. First, the fact that the governor did call for the dissolution of the traditional villages, even though he may have only intended the two villages in conflict at the time. “In fact, this point was clarified by the plaintiff himself. Even though this was admitted (by the governor), it did not form part of the decision issued by the judicial panel chaired by Amser Simandjuntak,” explained Lijaya.

Lijaya also claimed, in the response of the plaintiff to the answer provided by the defendant (The Bali Post) the governor freely admitted calling for the dissolution. “Only the defendant didn’t call for all desa pakraman to be dissolved, but only those involved in the current case. This is an admission,” said Lijaya.

Suryatin Lijaya questioned why the judges did not apply the Indonesian Press Law in the case. He said from a legal viewpoint there were already two prominent cases available to the court as a basis for comparison: the case of the family of former president Soeharto against TIME Magazine and another case in which businessman Tomi Winata sued Tempo Magazine. Both cases are still being reviewed before the courts, but in both instances the right of response to press reports was given priority.

It is Lijaya’s opinion that it is premature to decide that the press has broken the law if the right of response has yet to be exercised by the plaintiff. He went on to say that if the press preserved the right to respond, it cannot be said that they have violated the law. He bemoaned the fact that the governor failed to exercise his right of response, choosing instead to file a civil suit.