Expert Examination Trial in the Criminal Case of Fatia and Haris: Linguists presented by the Incompetent Prosecutor and ITE Expert Explain that Fatia-Haris Cannot Be Subject to the ITE Law

Jakarta, 10 July 2023 – Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar underwent their eleventh trial at the East Jakarta District Court. The main agenda of the hearing was an expert examination presented by the Public Prosecutor. Two experts were present, namely Dr. Ronny from Hayam Wuruk University as an ITE Law Expert and Asisda Wahyu from Jakarta State University as a Linguist. These two experts previously gave their statement at the investigation stage.

Previously, key witnesses who played a significant role in disclosing the facts at trial, in this case, had provided statements such as Heidi Melissa (director at PT Toba Sejahtera who was previously head of legal), Paulus Prananto (Director of PT Tobacom Del Mandiri from 2013 – 2018), and Agus Dwi Prasetyo (Youtube producer for Haris Azhar).

In his statement, Asisda Wahyu conveyed the difference between criticism, suggestions, insults, defamation, and slander. We have highlighted various questions raised by the Public Prosecutor. The mentioned questions were aimed precisely in digging up facts, not the expertise/knowledge of the Expert on this case. We assessed that the prosecutor did not understand the difference between a factual witness and an expert witness since they asked and wanted to confirm facts from a linguist.

The linguist stated that the word ‘Lord’ is defamation. Likewise, the word ‘criminal’ in the video was considered as an exaggerated joke and should not be conveyed. This explanation is problematic because the Expert assesses a tendentious matter and not in his capacity as a linguistic expert.

We also criticize the prosecutor’s attitude for making analogies that are not contextual to this case. The Prosecutors also led the expert to state that Fatia and Haris’ statements were fake news and slander. We consider this the prosecutor’s inaccuracy. They are stuttering in understanding their position as a public prosecutor.

We doubt the capacity of the linguistic witness, Asisda Wahyu, because he has yet to publish scientific publications regarding the analysis of interpreting speech. This was confirmed by Asisda, who also did not prepare writings before giving expert testimony at trial and during the investigative process. Furthermore, we consider that the Expert is not competent enough to be presented at trial to provide expertise in linguistics. Because many questions from the law advisors were not answered clearly by experts, for example, when giving information, Asisda could not explain comprehensively accompanied by scientific theories and references.

In his statement, Asisda said that Fatia and Haris conveyed a shifting meaning in the podcast, which was different from the content of the quick review. Unfortunately, when confronted with which part has shifted, the Expert could not firmly explain. In the Police Investigation Report, Asisda stated that Luhut Binsar Panjaitan suffered losses due to video podcasts. However, when asked about the evidence of the loss, the Expert could not answer. We consider that Asida’s expert testimony is clearly far-fetched. Not to mention that when asked about a number of words that must be answered definitively, the Expert’s explanation did not even agree with the Indonesian Dictionary (KBBI).

Meanwhile, the second Expert, Dr. Ronny, was presented as an expert in using Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE). In his statement, the Expert conveyed several statements such as Article 27 paragraph (3) of the ITE Law, the Decree of the Minister Guidelines (SKB) for implementing the ITE Law, and the offense of defamation and slander in the ITE Law. 

In the testimony of Ronny, he explicitly stated that it is not an act of defamation, an act of judgment, opinion, nor evaluation of something based on SKB Article 27 paragraph (3) letter c. In addition, this article also does not apply if the reporter is a public official. Based on the decision of the Constitutional Court No. 50/PUU-VI/2008 also emphasized that Article 27 paragraph (3) is excluded if it is related to the public interest.

Ronny also explained that based on his understanding, the podcast on Haris Azhar’s YouTube cannot be separated from the content in the research and assessment made by 9 civil society organizations. So, all parties must thoroughly examine the contents of the study because the podcast is in accordance with the content of the study. The Expert said that if Fatia and Haris had evidence of Luhut’s involvement in mining in Papua, they could not be charged under the ITE Law. Another essential matter, Ronny stated that what was conveyed by Fatia and Haris, which was based on a quick review or research, was part of the public/general interest, so that it could not be criminalized.

In his statement, the Expert explained that the ITE Law was historically intended to regulate business transactions on the internet and crack down on data breaches. The Expert stated that he did not know the reasons behind the appearance of the defamation article. The witness added that the reason behind the issuance of the SKB was that the application of criminal provisions varied from one case to another.


Contact Person:
Asfinawati (Team Advocacy for Democracy)
Nurkholis Hidayat (Team Advocacy for Democracy)
Muhammad Isnur (Team Advocacy for Democracy)
Andi Muhammad Rezaldy (Team Advocacy for Democracy)