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Muhammad Fajriska Mirza may become the first person in Indonesia imprisoned for making statements on Twitter.
The lawyer is currently on trial at the South Jakarta District Court for libeling a government official on the social microblogging website.
He faces eight years’ imprisonment if convicted.
The case began six months ago, when Deputy Attorney General for Supervision Marwan Effendy read several messages that appeared on Fajriska’s Twitter account, @fajriska, alleging that Marwan had embezzled Rp 104 billion (US$11.02 million) in cash from the evidence room at the Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office.
The messages went into wide circulation after they were reposted by @TrioMacan2000, a currently inactive Twitter account that has been noted for its outspoken comments.
Marwan filed a complaint against Fajriska at the Jakarta Police in June, alleging that Fajriska was the owner of @fajriska and @TrioMacan2000 and had written the messages.
Prosecutor Arif Indra Kusuma Adhi said during the first day of proceedings on Wednesday that Fajriska had violated Articles 310, 311 and 317 of the Criminal Code covering defamation and Article 263 on document forgery.
Fajriska was also accused of breaching Article 27 the 2008 Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law by distributing false information through electronic means, which carries a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment.
Arief said Fajriska posted his messages to Twitter after he did not receive a response to a letter he sent on the graft allegations implicating Marwan to Attorney General Basrief Arief.
“The Twitter account @fajriska was used to distribute information that is identical with that written in the defendant’s letters,” Arief said in his indictment.
At the South Jakarta District Court on Wednesday, Fajriska denied all charges made by prosecutors. He is expected to deliver his defense statement on Jan. 3.
A posting was made to the @fajriska account on Twitter on Wednesday with the message “SAVE BOY”. Boy is the nickname of Fajriska.
Social media analyst Nukman Luthfie said the deputy attorney general should have confirmed the identity of the Twitter user before he filed his lawsuit.
“Marwan could have asked for the National Police assistance to uncover the identity of the Twitter user. The police are certainly able to do that,” he said.(yps)
Social media cases
Dec. 15, 2009: Actress Luna Maya was reported to police for comments on her Twitter account in which she said “infotainment is worse than prostitution”. On Feb. 18, 2010, the report was revoked.
Feb. 16, 2010: Nurarafa alias Farah, 18, was sentenced to 2.5 months in jail for defamation via Facebook.
June 14, 2012: A court in West Sumatra sentenced Alexander Aan, 32, to 2.5 years in prison for blasphemy and publicly declaring himself an atheist.
Sept. 2012: Yenike Venta Resti, 20, stood trial for defamation via Facebook.
Oct. 5, 2012: Mustika Tahir was arrested by police in South Sulawesi for defamation via Facebook.
Dec. 10, 2012: Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician Muhammad Misbakhun reported the owner of Twitter account @benhan to the police for alleged defamation and libel.
Source: The Jakarta Post