Ratna Sarumpaet during a hearing at the South Jakarta District Court on June 18, 2019. (B1 Photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

'Best Hoax Creator' Ratna Sarumpaet Freed After 15 Months in Prison


DECEMBER 26, 2019

Jakarta. Rights activist Ratna Sarumpaet was released from prison on Thursday after serving around 15 months of a two-year sentence for making a false claim that she had been tortured by her political opponents during last year's presidential campaign. 

Ratna received her sentence on July 11 this year but her prison term began from the day she was detained as a suspect in October last year.

She earned an early release from prison thanks to several sentence cuts awarded for "good behavior," her lawyer Desmihardi said.

"Ratna was officially released from the Pondok Bambu Women's Penitentiary today," Desmihardi told reporters in Jakarta.

He said Ratna, who is also a famous playwright and actor, was released on parole by her request. Otherwise, she would have had to spend another month in prison after the sentence cuts.

"Ratna received the sentence cuts on Idul Fitri and Independence Day. She has served around 15 months of her two years' imprisonment since October 2018," the lawyer said.

According to the 1995 Law on Correctional Institution, a convict is entitled to parole after serving at least two-thirds of a jail term.

Ratna, 70, was convicted of spreading hoax by the South Jakarta District Court for her claim that she had been tortured by a group of men during a trip to Bandung, West Java, in September last year.

Photographs of Ratna with severe bruises on her face circulated widely on the internet after she went public with her claim right in the middle of a gripping presidential campaign. 

Ratna was a die-hard supporter of then presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, who immediately held a press conference to confirm the alleged torture – aired live by news broadcaster TV One during the evening prime time and in a segment in the broadcaster's most-watched show, Indonesia Lawyers Club.

But police later found out that on Sept. 21 last year, the day the activist claimed she was tortured in Bandung, Ratna was actually in the Bina Estetika Hospital in Menteng, Central Jakarta, undergoing cosmetic surgery on her face.

It was learned that the bruises in the photographs were the temporary side effects of the surgery.

When the National Police held a press conference to announce the results of their investigation on Oct. 3 last year, Ratna held a separate conference to admit her wrongdoing, saying she was "the country's best hoax creator."