Criminalisation of HRDs Fatia M. and Haris A. – Trial is ongoing and access restricted

Mr Haris Azhar (Founder of Lokataru) and Ms Fatia Maulidiyanti (Coordinator of KontraS) have been facing legal proceedings for alleged defamation against Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Mr Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, since 2021. The trial of the criminalisation case against Fatia and Haris entered the stage of examining the reporting witness, namely Mr Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, on 8 June 2023. The hearing was held at the East Jakarta District Court. At this hearing, it became increasingly clear that the Public Prosecutor no longer represents the interests of the State but behaved like an attorney for Mr Luhut Binsar Panjaitan.  The most striking thing is that the prosecutor asked questions that were not in the Police Investigation Report (BAP) and the indictment, namely about the relationship and conversations between Luhut and Haris Azhar.

During the hearing, Luhut denied claims that he had a number of company permits in Intan Jaya Regency, Central Papua. He also denied involvement in military operations in Papua to smooth his business. According to him, this is beyond his control as Coordinating Minister. Additionally, he requested to conduct an audit of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Indonesia to know the source of the funds obtained by various NGOs. Finally, Luhut said Haris Azhar had asked for several shares claimed to belong to indigenous Papuans in the PT Freeport mining area. Even though in the end, Luhut himself stated that when Haris asked for the shares, it was for the indigenous Papuan people and in the capacity as their attorney, these facts show that there is a scenario to divert the main issue at trial, namely the alleged involvement of the Luhut company in Papua.

When reporting Fatia & Haris, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan claimed to be an individual/ordinary citizen. But the hearing showed the opposite. The trial was heavily guarded by a large number of security forces and there were even military personnel participating in the security. Fatia & Haris’ lawyers were even unable to enter and attend the trial due to obstructions in front of the court. Later, even when they entered the court the number was limited to 12 people. These obstacles were not only experienced by lawyers but also by a number of journalists and visitors who wanted to monitor the course of the trial process.

This hearing was initially scheduled for May 29, 2023, but the Prosecutor postponed it following an unfunded request by Luhut’s attorney. Luhut did not attend because he was allegedly abroad at the time. However, the claim appears to be false. Moreover, the defendant’s legal team has reported five public prosecutors in this case of alleged defamation of the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan to the Prosecutor’s Commission.  The five are alleged to have made false statements by saying Luhut was abroad, so he missed the witness examination hearing on May 29, 2023, held in East Jakarta. The legal team went directly to the Prosecutor’s Commission Office on 6 June 2023. The report was received by Prosecutor’s Commission Commissioner Bambang Widarto. The JPU allegedly violated the Attorney General’s Regulation Number PER-014/A/JA/11/2012 concerning the Prosecutor’s Code of Conduct Article 5 letter a. In their report, Haris and Fatia’s legal team included a number of evidence. One of them, a screenshot of the ministers’ Instagram post shows Luhut was in Indonesia on the day of the trial. They also included evidence in the form of Antara news links explaining that Luhut attended a Jakarta event on Monday 29 May. A recording of the Prosecutor’s statement stating Luhut was abroad was also included. 

Another two hearings were held on June 12 and 19. They were centred around the examination of witnesses from the public prosecutor’s side. During the June 12 session, two individuals from Luhut’s media staff testified. On June 19, a representative from PT Madinah Qurrata’ain, a mining company in Papua reportedly linked to Luhut, testified and denied any claims of Luhut’s ownership stake in the company. The trial was interrupted due to development regarding Fatia’s family and is set to resume on June 26.