From the First Trial Hearing of Teguh Santosa, Editor-in-Chief of Rakyat Merdeka Online

At 1 p.m. Indonesian Western Time on Wednesday, August 30, 2006, at the South Jakarta District Court, government prosecutors of the South Jakarta Prosecutors’ Office indicted Teguh Santosa, editor-in-chief of Rakyat Merdeka Online, for a single accusation, namely violating Article 156 point (a) of the Criminal Code, which says:

‘’Those, who purposely express their views or commit an act that principally disseminates hatred, misuses or defames a religion recognized in Indonesia, face at maximum five years imprisonment.’’

In their indictment, the government prosecutors accused that on February 2, 2006, Rakyat Merdeka Online published caricatures of Prophet Mohammed, which were taken from the website of Danish internet media -Jyllands Posten-, with his characteristics of being whiskered, bearded, having mustache and wearing turban made of a ready-to-explode bomb. Arabic letters, saying Laa Ilaaha Ilalah Muhammadarrasulullah, were written on the turban and his eyes were blocked by red color. The publication was purely based on the idea and thoughts of Teguh Santosa. According to the prosecutors, the publication of the caricatures defamed Islam, because abusing and defaming Prophet Mohammed also means defaming Islam.

During the previous hearing preceded by an act of solidarity by journalists, Teguh Santosa rejected the prosecutors’ indictment, arguing that he did not defame Islam but only told those were the caricatures, which had raised controversy among Muslim believers.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday, September 6, 2006 to hear the defense by Teguh Santosa’s lawyers.


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