Trial of Grandmother Draws Controversy


Controversy has raged around the case of a 77-year-old grandmother, on trial for fraud at Denpasar District Court, with NGOs and lawyers claiming her treatment is inhumane and a high-profile former minister taking up her case.

Loena Kanginnadhi, who was allegedly involved in a fraudulent land deal, has been appearing in the courtroom in her hospital bed, with supporters claiming she is too ill to be standing trial.

Kanginnadhi is alleged to have embezzled funds worth US$850,000 during a 2001 land transaction in Jimbaran, with the plaintiff, Putra Masagung, claiming that she had failed to release the full land area into new ownership.

Kanginnadhi was initially arrested in November last year, but was released after a pre-trial hearing. She was rearrested in Surabaya, East Java, in April where she was undergoing medical treatment.

She was transferred to Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar, but was last week moved to Kerobokan Prison after the court obtained a doctor’s letter stating that she no longer required medical treatment.

Her supporters claim she fainted on arrival at the prison because of the trauma of the experience.

As well as complaints from Kanginnadhi’s family and lawyers, Kerobokan Prison chief Gusti Ngurah also criticised her transfer, saying she was not in a fit state to be held there.

“We can’t even communicate with her,” he said. “We’re worried something unexpected will happen.”

Kanginnadhi’s lawyer, Sumardhan, said that the attitude of the prosecutors in the case was unreasonable.

“We’ve objected from the start. Now the prosecutors should take responsibility,” he said.

There have been further criticisms from NGOs, with the East Java-based Malang Peoples Mediation and Consultation Institution, filing a Rp200-billion lawsuit for inhumane treatment on Kanginnadhi’s behalf.

“We deem that the treatment of the defendant violates human rights,” the institution’s chairman, Agus Salim Ghozaly, said.

A separate lawsuit for a similar amount has been lodged by the Indonesian Sapoe Djagad Communication Forum.

Prosecutor Putu Astawa has defended the handling of the case, saying that his team had been acting in accordance with the orders of the district court.

“We only did what the court letter instructs us to,” he said.

Earlier this week, former justice minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra, who is now a lawyer, announced that he had taken up the case.

“It’s an interesting case, where we see a woman, a mother, of advanced age being forced to go on trial,” he said.

Mahendra said that in other cases ill health was frequently used as an excuse to avoid trial.

“[Former president] Suharto’s case was never brought to trial because he was ill, yet this woman is being prosecuted while she is sick,” he said, adding that the medical certification the court had obtained declaring Kanginnadhi fit for detention and trial had been irregular.

“The fact is she cannot stand and has to remain laying down. There is a need for a really independent team to ascertain whether she is sick or not so that it can be decided whether she can be tried,” he said.

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