Lawyer Calls for Settlement in Tommy Libel Case

JAKARTA

A lawyer representing Tommy Suharto in his libel case against Garuda Indonesia and the publisher of its in-flight magazine has said the airline may be open to an out-of-court settlement.

Tommy, son of late president Suharto, is suing Garuda and Indo Multi Media for a 2009 article in the magazine about his Pecatu Indah Resort on the Bukit peninsula in which the businessman was described as a “convicted murderer.” Tommy was jailed for 15 years in 2002 for ordering the murder of a supreme court judge. He served four years.

Tommy is demanding Rp25 billion (US$2.9 million) in damages, claiming that the article caused him offence and financial loss.

Garuda lawyer Ahmad Maulana said that an out-of-court settlement would be acceptable.

“Before the verdict is read, there is a chance for a mutual settlement. We would be happy if we can get such a settlement, but I still haven’t received instructions,” he said.

During his closing statement in court Maulana said Tommy’s claim of a link between the article and losses relating to a golf tournament at Pecatu Indah were unfounded.

“How can we draw a link between the golf tournament and the points of the lawsuit? We can’t understand that someone held a tournament then transferred the cost burden to someone else. We consider that the lawsuit should not be accepted by the judges,” he said.

He also said the lawsuit should be targeted against the writer of the article, rather than against Garuda or Indo Multi Media.

Responding, Tommy’s attorney, Firman Nurwahyu, said that Garuda and Indo Multi Media were responsible for their employees’ actions, and were fully responsible for publishing the article.

“The Garuda magazine is managed by the employees of Garuda and [Indo Multi Media] and the employers must be held responsible,” he said.

Presiding Judge Tahsin said the verdict would be delivered on May 16.

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