Riyadi, the prosecutor who argued the case against Prita, said on Sunday that neither personal motive nor hard feelings led him to take the case and that he was just doing his job.
“It needs to be understood that I filed an appeal against her because I follow legal procedures and that there was no other motivation,” said Riyadi, who also handled the infamous ox-tail theft case against an elderly maid in Tangerang.
He declined to comment on the Supreme Court ruling until his office received the official copy. His boss, Chaerul Amir, said he had learned about the ruling on the court’s Web site last week and was prepared to support the sentence if it included imprisonment.
In November 2009, when he was arguing in the Tangerang court for Prita to receive a six-month jail sentence, Riyadi said the case had become very complicated because of the thousands of people voicing opposition in a Facebook page.
“We are handling a very difficult case because of the strong public opinion that the defendant is not guilty, regardless of the fact that the trial has not yet concluded,” he said at the time.
“But justice must not bow to pressure just because the defendant has support from so many Facebookers or whatever.”
Nearly 400,000 people joined a Facebook support group for Prita after her plight was reported in local and national media in 2009.
Prita has maintained her innocence, saying that as a patient, she should have the right to make a complaint about bad treatment at the hospital.
Supporters outraged over the result of the appeal have criticized prosecutors for bringing the Electronic Transaction and Information Law (ITE) into the case without consulting the police. ITE carries stiffer penalties for defamation — six years in jail — than the Criminal Code.
The Tangerang prosecutor’s office has also come under scrutiny after it was revealed that the hospital involved in the suit, Omni International Hospital, had offered free medical checkups to its officials.
Prominent Jakarta lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis suggested that the recommended sentence in the Supreme Court’s ruling be delayed until the case review by Prita was decided.
Under the Criminal Code Procedures, a case review should not delay the imprisonment, but Todung insisted the circumstances of the Tangerang mother’s case were extraordinary.
“Prita is using the technology that others also use to get and share information, and she must not be stopped from using it,” Todung said. “I really regret that she was found guilty because of it. It would be better if the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling were delayed until after the case review.”