The National Police are looking to expand an investigation into a political hoax that originated with human rights activist Ratna Sarumpaet, center, following her arrest while trying to leave the country late on Thursday (04/10). (SP Photo/Joanita De Saojoao)

Police to Widen Probe of Political Hoax Implicating Presidential Candidate

BY :JOY MUCHTAR, BAYU MARHAENJATI, HERU ANDRIYANTO & FAROUK ARNAZ

OCTOBER 05, 2018

Jakarta. The National Police are looking to expand an investigation into a political hoax that originated with human rights activist Ratna Sarumpaet, following her arrest while trying to leave the country late on Thursday (04/10).

Police have declared the theatrical producer, actress and writer a suspect in the case after a story she claims to have fabricated to cover up the fact that she had plastic surgery, was used by the campaign team of presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto to attack the incumbent, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

The case has since become a source of embarrassment for Prabowo. Multiple plaintiffs have reported him and several members of his campaign team to the police for their alleged involvement in spreading the false story.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said additional suspects will likely be named in the case.

"Whoever participates in committing a crime faces the same punishment," Setyo said.

"What is important now, is the National Police's commitment to immediately resolve the Ratna case," he added.

Setyo said the police have summoned Amien Rais, co-founder of the National Mandate Party (PAN), and his daughter, Hanum Rais, for questioning but that both have yet to respond.

Ratna, who was until Wednesday a member of Prabowo and his running mate Sandiaga Uno's campaign team, was arrested at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, on Thursday night after she had already boarded a flight bound for Chile to attend a conference.

Ratna confessed on Wednesday to having lied about an assault by a group of people in Bandung, West Java.

This came after police determined that she was not in the West Java provincial capital on Sept. 21 – the day of the supposed assault – but instead undergoing plastic surgery in Jakarta. The facial bruising, which she claimed was from the assault, was in fact caused by the surgery.

The story went viral soon after House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon – a confidante of Prabowo – shared it with his followers on social media.

Ratna faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if found guilty of having spread false and inflammatory information.

Andre Rosiade, a spokesman for Sandiaga, meanwhile said the campaign team would not provide Ratna with any legal assistance.

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