JAKARTA ~ A court threw out on Thursday a case against the editor of the local version of Playboy, who had been charged with publishing indecent material, on a technicality.
“The panel of judges declares the charges of the prosecutors cannot be accepted,” Judge Efran Basuning said.
The case was thrown out because prosecutors had failed to charge Erwin Arnada under a particular press law, he explained.
One of the prosecutors in the case – widely seen as a battle between press freedom against conservative Islamic mores in Muslim-majority Indonesia – said the charges had been well prepared.
“I feel that the indictment had been prepared in a systematic, detailed and clear manner,” Agung Ardianto said, adding that the prosecution team would discuss its next move.
The adult magazine issued a statement accepting the verdict.
“Playboy Indonesia never has and will never publish nude photos or other forbidden materials,” the statement said.
Hardline Muslim protestors demonstrating at the court in Jakarta began dispersing after the verdict, chanting “God is great!” Some had threatened to “declare war” on the magazine had Arnada been found not guilty.
“We are very disappointed because of the judge’s verdict, but please stay calm and don’t be easily provoked,” demonstrator Abdul Khodir told about 100 fellow members of one group.
He said he hoped prosecutors would appeal the ruling, as hundreds of police with water cannon stood at the ready near the court.
Playboy’s debut issue in April last year featured several models on its cover and inside pages showing ample cleavage and long legs – but nothing more explicit.
Racier men’s magazines, newspapers and websites are available in the country.
Playboy moved its Indonesian headquarters to Bali after protests by Muslim hardliners and attacks on its offices in Jakarta.
Indonesians practice a tolerant form of Islam, but religious leaders have complained that the magazine is a corrupting influence on society.