Ratna Sarumpaet seen just before the start of her trial in the South Jakarta District Court on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)

Activist Ratna Sarumpaet Goes on Trial


FEBRUARY 28, 2019

Jakarta. Indonesian actress-turned-political activist Ratna Sarumpaet appeared in the South Jakarta District Court on Thursday, charged with spreading deceptive information that resulted in public disorder.

The case stems from an incident in early October last year, when Ratna, who was a prominent member of presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto's camapaign team, distributed photos of her severely bruised and swollen face, alleging that a group of unknown people had assaulted her at Husein Sastranegara International Airport in Bandung, West Java, in late September. The photos quickly went viral on social media, resulting in a public outcry and allegations by the opposition of a human rights violation.

This prompted prominent opposition figures, including Prabowo, to publicly condemn the alleged attack on the theatrical producer, actress and writer.

"It is regrettable that one of the leaders of our campaign team, Mrs. Ratna Sarumpaet, was brutally beaten," Prabowo said at the time.

However, a police investigation subsequently determined that she had been perpetrating a hoax and that the apparent injuries were the result of plastic surgery. This led Ratna to publicly admit that she had lied about the alleged attack to hide the surgery from her family. She also announced her resignation from Prabowo's campaign team at the same time.

She was arrested at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, on Oct. 4,  prior to departing to Santiago, Chile, where she planned to attend a conference.

Ratna's trial commenced on Thursday with the prosecution reading out the indictment against her, including the chronology of the case.

"The defendant told the story of the assault on her and sent photos showing her swollen and bruised face to witnesses…," a member of the prosecution said, adding that Prabowo was among those witnesses.

According to the prosecution, this resulted in several rallies in support of Ratna and demands for law enforcement agencies to investigate and find the perpetrators of the alleged attack.

The trial will continue next week when Ratna's legal team will present their defense. She stands accused of violating Article 28 of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if found guilty.