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Prosecution of Legal Aid Institute lawyers continues

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The Jakarta Police are determined to pursue their case against two Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) lawyers who were arrested when providing legal assistance to labor organizations during a mass rally in October last year.

The dossiers of the two persons, as well as 24 others, were completed on Wednesday and were immediately handed over to the Jakarta Prosecutor’€™s Office, said Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Mohammad Iqbal.

€œThe case is going on. We are handing over the suspects and the evidence to the Jakarta Prosecutor’€™s Office today,’€ he told the reporters at the Jakarta Police headquarters.

The two lawyers were arrested and named suspects along with 23 labor union members and one student activist during the rally, which was held to demand a change in the minimum wage formula.

Iqbal said the 26 people were charged for the misdemeanor of disobeying officers, which can result in a maximum penalty of eight months behind bars.

€œThe 26 people resisted the police’€™s order for the rally to disperse after the allowed time for a rally at 6 p.m.,’€ he said. ‘€œThe police warned them three times but they ignored the warnings.’€

Some LBH lawyers and hundreds of labor activists conducted a rally inside the police headquarters on Wednesday, demanding the police cease the prosecution of the 26 people.

LBH Jakarta director Alghiffari Aqsa said the 26 had begun to voluntarily disperse when the police came to beat and arrest them.

€œThe participants in the rally were trying to disperse themselves when police officers came and beat some of them and damaged their property [cars and sound systems],’€ he said.

He added that even if participants had remained at the rally location after 6 p.m., the police should not have violently dispersed them because the rally was peaceful. He pointed out that conducting a rally after 6 p.m. only violated a recent Jakarta city regulation, but not the 1998 law on freedom of speech.

LBH Jakarta, along with other organizations, previously reported the Jakarta Police to the ombudsman for maladministration, saying that the police had not followed proper procedures when arresting the 26 people and, later, when naming them suspects. One such procedure the police allegedly ignored was that police officers who arrested the rally participants did not wear uniforms.

Asked whether LBH Jakarta will file a pretrial motion, Alghiffari said his organization had not thought of making such a move because the offenses charged were misdemeanors, which the police should not have made a fuss about.

Alghiffari called the arrest of the 26 people a ‘€œcriminalization’€ of activists who demanded civil rights in public.

Meanwhile, Iqbal said the prosecution of the 26 people could not be ceased because the dossiers were complete.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/02/18/prosecution-legal-aid-institute-lawyers-continues.html

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