Ratna Sarumpaet on trial at the South Jakarta District Court on Tuesday. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Iqbal)

Prosecutors Demand Six-Year Jail Sentence for Ratna Sarumpaet


MAY 28, 2019

Jakarta. Public prosecutors have demanded that stage actress and activist Ratna Sarumpaet be sentenced to six years in prison for spreading fake news and deliberately causing public unrest.

"Based on our argument, we, the prosecutors in this case, demand that the judges of the South Jakarta District Court in charge of this case decide that, first, the defendant Ratna Sarumpaet is guilty of the criminal act of distributing false news or information and deliberately causing public unrest," lead prosecutor Daru Tri Sadono said in the South Jakarta District Court on Tuesday.

"Second, to sentence the defendant Ratna Sarumpaet to six years imprisonment, reduced to the detention period she has served," he said.

Daru said that during the proceedings, there was nothing the defendant brought to the court that could prove her innocence or justify her actions.

The case began in October last year when Ratna, who was a member of then-presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto's campaign team, sent photos of her bruised and swollen face on WhatsApp to fellow campaign team members.

She told them that she had been assaulted by an unindentified group of people near the Husein Sastranegara International Airport in Bandung, West Java. 

News of her assault along with pictures of her bandaged face quickly went viral on social media and allegations of a human rights violation by the opposition created a stir among the public.

Police began an investigation which revealed that her bruised and swollen face was the result of a facelift.

Ratna held a press conference at her home on Oct. 3 during which she said she had lied about the attack to hide the fact that she had gotten a plastic surgery from her family.

She announced her resignation from the Prabowo campaign team the next day.

Ratna's Response

Ratna Sarumpaet said that that the charges imposed on her by the prosecution were misapplied. 

"I feel that the whole narrative from [the prosecutors'] demand is a hyperbole. They blew it up. In front [of the judges] they used the Quran, saying that lying is a sin. But then they themselves lied by saying that [I caused] unrest, when what is stated in the law on public unrest was not proven in my case," Ratna said after the trial, referring to the law she is accused of violating.

"That's what I meant by hyperbole, that it was blown up and exaggerated," she added.

Public prosecutors charged her with Article 14 of the Criminal Code, which stipulates that anyone deliberately spreading false news or information that triggers public unrest could face up to 10 years' imprisonment. 

Ratna was also charged with Article 28 in conjunction with Article 45 of the Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) Law, which states that anyone deliberately spreading information with the intention of creating hatred or hostility toward a social group could face up to six years in prison and a fine of up to Rp 1 billion ($69,600).