Former Justice and Human Rights Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra. (Antara Photo)

Activists Detained Over Treason Allegation Appoint Former Justice Minister as Defense Lawyer


DECEMBER 02, 2016

Jakarta. Former justice minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra said he has been appointed as a defense lawyer for a group of high-profile activists detained by the police early on Friday morning (02/12) for alleged treason.

Yusril said in a Twitter post that he had talked to one of the activists, theater director Ratna Sarumpaet, who told him she had been picked up by the police at the Sari Pan Pacific hotel in Central Jakarta, not far from the National Monument where Friday's anti-Ahok rally was held.

"Ratna will face questioning by the police," Yusril said, adding that police believed they had evidence that Ratna and her friends had intended to commit treason against the state.

Yusril was the Minister of Justice and Human Rights under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, serving from August 2001 to October 2004.

Yusril said he will take up the mantle of defense lawyer for Ratna and the other activists detained by the police.

As previously reported, several other high-profile activists including the daughter of Indonesia's first president Rachmawati Sukarnoputri, politician Sri Bintang Pamungkas and former army general Kivlan Zen, were detained along with Ratna shortly before dawn on Friday.

"They were all picked up by the police early on Friday morning, including Rachmawati," Yusril said, adding that he has not been able to talk to the other activists.

The government has told community leaders not to provoke the public during the blasphemy investigation against Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, and urges them to run a peaceful protest on Friday.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has blamed "political actors" for exploiting Muslim fury over the governor — after he was accused of insulting the holy Koran — to destabilize his government.