Aspat between two teenage girls over the attentions of a boy that spilled over onto the pages of the popular social networking Web site Facebook could result in one of the girls being charged under the country’s draconian Electronic Information and Transactions Law.
Adjutant Comr. Irwansyah, head of the Bogor Police’s crime unit, said on Wednesday that Nurfarah, 18, would likely be charged under Articles 310 and 311 of the Criminal Code for defamation — offenses that carry a maximum of 16 months and four years in jail, respectively.
However, the officer said investigators were seeking further advice and could still charge the teenager with breaching the Electronic Information Law, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in jail and allows for police to detain a suspect.
The police’s decision to investigate the possibility of using the new law comes despite a recent ruling by the Tangerang District Court in Banten to throw out a defamation charge against Prita, a mother of two who was accused of defaming Omni International Hospital in an e-mail criticizing the facility’s treatment.
“Nurfarah has admitted during questioning as a witness to having posted the insulting remarks” about Felly Fandini Juliastini on Facebook, “and police will summon her again, most likely as a suspect,” Irwansyah said.
Irwansyah said next week officers would meet officials from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, legal experts, officers from the National Police’s cyber-crimes unit and possibly lawmakers who passed the law itself to determine if it could be applied in the case against the teenager.
He did say, however, that should police use the Electronic Information Law to charge the teenager, Nurfarah would not be placed in custody because “we believe she won’t flee.”
The case stems from a complaint filed by Felly last month after a falling out between the former junior high school friends over Nurfarah’s boyfriend, Ujang Romansyah, who is the same age.
Ujang has said publicly that Nurfarah was angered by Felly’s comments on his Facebook account and both girls soon became involved in a public argument on the Internet.
At one point, Nurfarah used Ujang’s Facebook account to write to Felly, saying, “You dog, mind your own business, you are nothing but a try-hard.”
Being called a “dog” is a huge insult to the vast majority of Indonesians.
Because the comment appeared on Ujang’s Facebook page, Felly and her mother reported him to the police.
Ujang later told police the comment was made by Nurfarah, triggered by her jealousy of Felly, Ujang’s friend from junior high school.
The decision by police to explore applying the Electronic Information Law is likely to again lead to widespread criticism given the controversy surrounding its application.
The Tangerang District Court’s decision to throw out the case against Prita on the basis that the law doesn’t come into force until April 2010 has been appealed by the Attorney General’s Office.
In May, in what was labeled a major blow to freedom of expression, the Constitutional Court rejected a request by a group of bloggers and media rights advocates for a judicial review of articles in the Electronic Information and Transactions Law that allow the filing of defamation charges in cases involving electronically transmitted information.