Subject: Timor Express Editor Questioned Over Libel [+New Indon Magazine]

The Jakarta Post Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Chief editor questioned over libel complaint

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara

The chief editor of the Timor Express (Timex) daily complied with a police summons on Monday for questioning over libel accusations made by the Wirasakti Military commander.

Editor Yusak Riwu Rohi, who was accompanied by a team of nine lawyers led by Lorens Mega Man, arrived at the Kupang Police office at 9 a.m. The group was received by local police chief of detectives First Insp. Robertus Hery.

However, Robertus denied that the summons was to question Yusak over a report carried by his newspaper, which the local military considered defamatory.

"The presence of Yusak Riwo Rohi was aimed only for coordination and was not to question him as a witness," Robertus said.

Robertus admitted the police were confused about whether to use Press Law No. 40/1999 or the Criminal Code in investigating the libel case. "A police team is still studying it," he said.

The case surfaced after Wirasakti military commander Col. Moeswarno Moesanif accused Timex of defaming his office in a report that criticized the military for being involved in developing resettlements for former East Timorese refugees.

The report, published last Friday, quoted Karel Yani Mbuik, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) for the East Nusa Tenggara chapter.

It accused Moesanif's office of using around Rp 5 billion (US$588,235) of Rp 53 billion in assistance from Japan to build houses for soldiers who were among the former East Timorese refugees.

The command oversees security in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara.

The Army had to respond to the accusations because it had no right to be involved in such a project, Mbuik was quoted in the article as saying.

Mbuik also alleged irregularities in the project and urged the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP) to investigate the case.

Responding to the report, Moesanif accused the newspaper and Mbuik of tarnishing his and the military's image. Last Friday, the commander took the libel case to the Kupang Police.

Yusak later criticized Moesanif's legal move, saying he should have his right to reply as regulated by Press Law No. 40/1999 to clarify the report.

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